The Unwanted Delivery

If someone offers to pay your debt, spit in his eye. Let’s find out why in this post of Saintly Sinners!

The Gifts

Last time we talked about how God gave us particular gifts to help us along in life. Most importantly, we learned Jesus lives His life through us. That is if we let Him. But how is this done? Through what we call the Means of Grace. These are physical things that God has left to every member of His Church to strengthen us in Christ. They are:

  • The Word of God
  • Baptism
  • The Office of the Keys
  • The Sacrament of the Altar

Go And Wash

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’

2 Kings 5:9-11 NASB

Just like Naaman, most Christians of today utterly despise the gifts God has left us. Surely we must contribute to the work of God they think. He would never do such things Himself. Over the next few weeks, we will go through the last three in the above list (the fourth being a part of each of these). It is my hope that I will be able to show you the importance of each of these beautiful gifts God freely gave us.

Free Grace

The truth is, grace is free.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it isthe gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

Many cannot seem to get over their desire to pay for salvation. They almost need to earn it. Consequentially these Means of Grace are ultimately neglected. The Word of God no longer has a place in their lives. Instead, they must fill every minute with tasks to make their time worthwhile. Baptism is reduced to a bath, Communion to a snack, and God surely has no place in forgiveness, only judgment. Such Christians will have much to answer to God for one day.

The truth is God is powerful.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

He not only sent Christ to die on the cross for our sins. He also left us with the means to draw ever closer to Him, despite our consistent failures. The gospel is that His Word is powerful to save. He can and will deliver us. He is the well of water springing up to eternal life.

Do you find yourself exhausted by daily life? Does the work week never end or bring so much stress you cannot breathe? Then come to the well. Let God wash you in His Word preached and refresh you with His grace.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

Next Time

This week we had an introduction into the Means of Grace and prepared ourselves to discuss them in the coming weeks. Between now and then I would love to hear from you. What have you been taught about these things? Do you have any questions about them you would like answered? Let me know in the comments below or send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

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I am Christian, but I Don’t Do Christian Things

Doing Christian things is for Jesus, I am a sinner so I sin.

In our last post on the Apostle’s Creed, All Hail the Sinner, we learned from a more practical standpoint, what Christ has done for us. Today let’s jump into what is still going on. To start our final session on the Apostle’s Creed here is the last section:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Here we have a sort of catch-all section. Everything they wanted to include is sort of thrown into this last section.

A New Form

There was a wife who worked very hard to stay in top physical condition. She wanted to stay in shape so she could have a good quality of life. Her husband, however, had no such ambition. Every weekend he spent most of his time in front of the television watching whatever sports show he could find.

After coming home from a morning run, to find her husband once more on the couch watching a baseball game, her blood boiled. Before she knew what she was saying she burst out, “How can you spend so much time on that couch? You need to get outside and get into shape!”. Surprised by her sudden rant, her husband looked at her with genuine confusion in his eyes and said, “Honey, I am not sure what you are talking about. I am in shape…Round is a shape”.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53

Did you know God is going to give us a new body? That’s right. One day, when Jesus comes back we will all be given a glorious resurrected body. No more pain, no more weight or figure problems. A perfect body just for us. When you think about how we tend to treat our bodies that is a pretty spectacular gift.

And it won’t stop there. God is going to make a whole new heaven and earth as well. The one we have is pretty beautiful. So much so, that there are entire groups dedicated to preserving its natural beauty. Imagine how great a perfect one will look one day.

His Body

That’s great and all, but that doesn’t really help us in the here and now does it? It is great to look forward to it one day, but what about the car payments? Or the mortgage? What about Mondays? Some days are just hard. What is he gonna do about that?

One day, a little girl came home from school after learning about arranged marriages in history class. She was shocked that women used to be forced to marry someone they did not choose and did not really know. She went to her mom, excited to tell her what she learned. Running into the kitchen she said, “Mom! Did you know women used to be forced to marry men they didn’t even know until after their marriage?”. The mother calmly replied, “Honey, that is every marriage”.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Well, He gave us an arranged marriage. Whether we like it or not, God made us apart of the church. We didn’t choose it. Some of the people in the church are pretty dysfunctional. The music can be pretty bad, and there is always that one group of people that want to ban donuts from the coffee hour in place of veggies. But they are our people, our church, and we are theirs.

He gave us this great communion so we could help one another through. They say misery loves company. Sometimes, nothing is better or more healing, than to be able to find out that Monday was hard for someone else too. Or that there are other people struggling to make things work the same way you do. It is great to know that you’re not alone.

Life is Hard, So Let Jesus Live It

This is a bit of a risk on a Christian site (but let’s live on the edge). The author of the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, once wrote this about leaders:

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.

For someone who is not a Christian, this is a pretty good description of the Holy Spirit. One other thing Jesus did for us, is he gave us the Spirit to enable us to do what we need to. All those commands that we are supposed to live by in the Bible, yeah those are His responsibility.

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:19-20

This is where Christianity gets pretty unique when compared to other religions. When God commands us to do something, He also gives us the ability to do it. This works the other way too. If God did not command us to do something, He is not going to empower us to do it. So next time someone at church tells you you’re supposed to be praying ten times a day, attending daily prayer meetings,  or read three hours a day of bible stories, don’t worry about it.

The same is true for life. Ever find yourself working as hard as you know how at something you thought was your ‘calling’? Only to find out you aren’t very good at it? Sometimes God just wants you to focus on where He has put you. Do not worry about what others are doing, how successful their mission or witness is. Just put your heart and soul into what He has given you and let God take care of the rest.

Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear youI have done it, and I will carry youAnd I will bear you and I will deliver you.

Isaiah 46:4

Next Time

Today we learned about some of the gifts God has given us to sustain us in our journey, and strengthen us into salvation. Gifts like the Church, the Holy Spirit, and the joyous future of the resurrection. But He did not stop there. He also gave us many gifts to strengthen our faith. The faith we need in those hard times of life when nothing else can satisfy our earning. So next time we will take a look at the first of those gifts.

Until then, I would love to hear more from you! Do you find yourself encouraged and growing in the knowledge of your Savior? I would love to know. Feel free to write in the comments below or send me a message via my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

All Hail the Sinner

Last time in God Gave Us Debt and Taxes we talked about how God’s creative work continues to bless us today in our daily life. Today we cover the second part of the Apostle’s Creed covering Redemption. The second part of the creed is:

And [I believe] in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

This is the longest section of the creed, but also the most wonderful.

The Pain of Love

The first portion of this section covers the belief that Jesus is also the God Who created us.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth.

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority

Colossians 1:16, 2:9-10 NASB

The very God that created us, came and paid the penalty for our sins. What great love this should work in our hearts for Him. That He Who needs nothing, gave everything just to be with us. Yet, how often do we feel we have not been given enough?

What is Certain

Taxes

There was a man who, after attending church and hearing a sermon on greed could not sleep. For a week he had restless nights worried by what he had heard. So one night he wrote a letter to the IRS saying, “I have been unable to sleep for the last week knowing that I had cheated on my income tax. Please find enclosed a check for $200”. Beneath his signature was written, “P.S. If I am still unable to sleep, I will send the rest.”

Death

They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Apparently, for the man in our story, taxes were semi-optional. Christians tend to add a third thing to that list though, guilt. If you listen to most Christians today you would think that you are an unsaved heathen if you do not writhe in guilt for one hour every day (three on Sundays).

Also, you can’t just have any kind of guilt. It must be Christian guilt. Don’t worry about your sins. Jesus has taken care of them. But don’t you dare miss the church potluck, or skip that Christian band playing downtown on Tuesday evening. But worst of all, do not, under any circumstance say “No” to the little old lady at church asking you to volunteer to hand out bulletins, vacuum the floor after service, and change the light bulb in the light fixture on the highest point of the fifty-foot sanctuary ceiling. God just can’t tolerate that.

Freedom in Death

Those are lies straight from the pit of hell. The next time someone tells you anything like that, look them straight in the eye and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus died for you. You do not have to live a certain lifestyle to get His blessing. He took care of that for you. It is done. In your baptism, you died with Him and now He lives in you.

Crown the Sinner King

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus was made sin on our behalf to die on the cross and save our poor wretched souls. But it did not end there. God raised Him up to reign forever:

But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.

Psalm 2:6-7 NASB

Jesus is King! Not in the future, at some distant day of rapture, but today and now. He reigns, He rules, He governs everything. So don’t be afraid. You are a member of His kingdom. He has brought you into His fold and He will never send you away (John 10:28).

Not only do you belong to Him, but He belongs to you. You can never cry out and not be heard by your Savior. He will always come to you. It may not be how you expect and He may not do what you want. However, He will be there all the same.

So rest in the arms of the Lord. Trust in Him and ignore those silly guilt-laden Christians. The Lord loves them too and He will save them in spite of their misguided attempts to help.

Next Time

I hope this post will help many of you out there to get past some of the lies well-meaning Christians have been spreading. In the last post, we covered what God has done in His creation. Today we covered what He is doing for His people. Next time we will cover the work God still has to do. But for now, I would love to hear from you. Has this post been helpful to you? Have you been encouraged not to give up on God? Feel free to let me know in the comments below, or send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

God Gave Us Debt and Taxes

Last week in God is Rich Because He Has Nothing we discovered that God has given us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation freely. But what good does that do us today? It doesn’t pay our bills and it does not help us get a more comfortable lifestyle. So what good does God do for us here and now?

The Creed

Last time I said we would start going over the Apostle’s Creed. Today we are going to look at the first of the three sections:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth

It is short, sweet, and to the point. But there is a lot more to it than just another debate on the origins of the universe.

Debt & Taxes

There was once a woman in court because she had failed to pay her debts. Over time she had racked up thousands of dollars on various credit cards. The judge, surprised by how extensive the debt was, asked the woman “Can’t you live within your means?”. The woman, in all seriousness, replied, “No your honor. In fact, it is all I can do to live within my credit”.

Isn’t that the way? Every day there is a letter from someone wanting money for some service. When there isn’t, the government is knocking at our doors for their ‘fair share’. It seems like no matter how hard we try there is never enough to go around.

But that is not how God wants it to be.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.

Psalm 104:14-15 (NASB)

We Believe

You see, when we confess that we believe that God created everything, it goes much further. We profess that God also sustains His creation with everything they need. He gives us our clothes, food, and drink (Gen. 3:21, Deut. 10:18). He gives us a home to live in (Ps. 68:6) and most of all a family (Pr. 18:22, Ps. 127:3).

What is more, we believe He does this freely out of His own goodness, not based on our performance (Acts 14:16-17). Have you ever been told that if you aren’t good enough you will not be blessed by God? There is a kernel of truth to that but it is often carried too far. God does not remove the basic blessings of life as a punishment for not being perfect. This is the teaching of Jesus: “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NASB)

Contentment

Now, this is the part where I am supposed to tell you not to be like the woman in the story above and live within your means. I am not going to tell you that though. I am going to say, live without your means.

That’s right, if you are hungry, give your food to someone who is even more hungry. Are you tired? Give rest to someone who is even more tired than you. God does not give us the blessings of this life so that we can be comfortable. He gives them so that we can be a blessing to others. By so blessing others we will receive the blessing, “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecc. 11:1)

Paul learned to be content, not because he learned to do without (an important lesson in itself), but because he learned our goal is not to accumulate blessing to have enough, it is to give away blessing to have a superabundance (Prov. 11:25).

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

Philippians 4:11-14 (NASB)

Believe You are a Blessing

So look around you and see the blessings God has given you. Then go out and be a blessing to others. If you can’t see the blessings you have (go find a homeless person and they will point them out to you) but also go to church and swear. Show those stuffed shirts your freedom in Christ! If that is not a blessing, nothing is.

Next Time

Today we learned just how good God is to His creatures in this life. Next time we will go more into our freedom in Christ in the second part of the Apostle’s Creed. For now, I would love to hear from you. Have you lived believing God will smite you if you put one toe out of line? Do you have the guts to swear in church? Has this helped you in any way? Feel free to comment down below or send me a message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.