OFF THE HOOK?

I recently heard this statement: “Salvation is not a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card.” For starters, I am surprised any believer in the gospel would make such a remark, and saddened to realize how many adhere to that suggestion.

To think that we have something to do for our salvation is simply not true. May I elaborate? First, the New Covenant was designed and followed through without human input. Redemption’s plan was finished before the world began. If you want scriptures please looks these up: Ephesians 1:4, Titus 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:9, Hebrews 4:3, 1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8. Basically, no man was invited to join the planning committee on this one. It was a covenant between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Man had no part to play in it’s conception nor it’s fulfillment. That is remarkable to me. God went to great lengths to redeem mankind, free of charge. Jesus did it all, for all. Read Romans 6 for a mind-bending account of how that effects us.

That brings me to another fact. No man has the power to reconcile himself to God. Even the best are not good enough. That’s why Jesus came; to remove the sin that caused the separation. On the cross Jesus totally eliminated the sin that alienated man from God in the first place. He took upon Himself the world’s sin in it’s entirety, killed it, removed it from us and replaced it with His righteousness. The idea that we must find a way to be deserving or worthy of salvation is not the gospel of Jesus.

With sin out of the picture, God moved in. He went from visitation mode to habitation mode. We are made righteous, not because of anything we do, but because of what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. It began with God, it was secured by God, and it is maintained by Him as well.

It is all quite simple. So simple, that children easily understand it. Man tends to complicate the good news by adding his logic and reasoning. Don’t even try. So, what do we have to do? Believe.

There is a great difference between works for righteousness and works of righteousness. It is the difference between ‘doing’ and ‘being’. It is the difference between works and grace. Are there works of righteousness? Absolutely. One small word changes the source of the righteousness. That is a big deal.

People can get very concerned that life will get sloppy if we aren’t held accountable for our actions. I can understand that; it was a concern of mine for a long time. Until I understood the total success of the cross.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 states: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.”

I would say that pretty much describes a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.
Is there any other way to see it?

FYI: I have recently published my first book entitled GOLD STARS. You can find it on Amazon.com or if you would like to contact me, I would love to hear from you.

Be blessed!
Judy

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ARGUMENTS

Some people love to argue. They love the challenge, the game, the point-proving, the mental and verbal cleverness and the whole nature of trying to convince others of their superiority in some area. I am not one of them.
If I sense an argument beginning I prefer to leave the room. I may even agree with the issues being argued about, but I am not going to set up my soapbox and enter in.

That makes my recent encounter with the Holy Spirit very interesting. During a discussion I was having with myself I was interrupted abruptly while making a obvious truthful statement. I caught myself involved in a dreadfully perfect self-talk about some “should-have’s”, “could-have’s”, and “If only’s”.

“Why are you arguing with Me?” That was the question posed to me by the Lord. My quick and very intelligent response described my state of mind….”huh?” Never mind; we won’t go there.

It took only a moment for me to understand what He was referring to. Guilt, shame, condemnation, should-have, could-have and if-only are not the truth. I will answer your argument to that statement before you ask: yes, there are many
times I need to change my thought process before another second ticks by and that thought leads me down a dark path.

But – arguing with God? When did I do that? The answer is simple; whenever I agree with lies about myself or others. When I see myself, my choices, even my circumstances filled with fear, anger and negativity. God does’t.

He sees me this way: holy, righteous, without blame, complete, sanctified, a new creation, more than a conqueror, a cherished child, a beloved bride, a mature believer, an image-bearer, loved without condition, and free!

That is a mere piece of my identity in Christ. That is who I am. I can either believe the lies or I can believe the truth. The truth sets me free. THE TRUTH SETS ME FREE. If there is something in my life I feel is not free I need to find out the lie I am listening to, expose it, exchange it for the truth and stay there.

If you can relate to this, may I make a suggestion? Stop arguing with what God says is true about you. Discover the truth from His perspective and park your mind and speech there. Live there – in your moments, in your days. Negatives will soon be replaced with positives. You will find that everything else about your life will follow and you will become who God says you already are.

MY SECRET PLACE

Psalm 91 contains some of the most comforting words ever written:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him I will trust.”

There have been times in life when I wished I had a secret place to climb into and know that I am completely hidden, totally safe, free from fear, and know beyond any doubt that negatives cannot reach me. Amazing as that sounds, it is true! This is a fact that I need to remember the next time I find myself in the middle of a war zone.

War is always about taking territory. My enemy wants what belongs to God: my heart, my devotion, my thoughts, my actions, my relationships, etc. It has been said that the closer you are to the enemy, the more flack you experience. That is also very true. The closer I get to being the person God created me to be, the more I experience battles designed to detour my course. As I journey, one by one, territory in my life that had been sources of battles now belong to the Lord and His purposes. It is wonderful. I experience freedom from what once caused grief, and joy in the understanding that the fight for that area in my life is over.

Then it hits me. Usually out of nowhere thoughts come against my serene existence. Sometimes thoughts that threaten to undo what I know and believe. Foreign thoughts aimed at placing the unthinkable in my mind; doubt and fear try to replace faith and assurance in what I know to be absolute truth. I have come to realize that it is one battle to take territory, and it is another battle to keep that territory.

Allow me to share a few strategic battle plans I have learned. First, a battle does not mean that I have lost my faith or am any less spiritual. It means that I am dangerously close to exposing the enemy and he is trying everything he can to turn my resolve.

A battle will always start in my mind. Unfortunately, my emotions usually follow close behind. They may not carry any truth, but they feel like it. Once they are allowed entrance into the situation the battle gets hot and heavy.

The inner battle can be brutal. My peace and well-being is disturbed, and some absolutes have been shaken. I need to take a good look at them again, examine them until they are indeed unshakable. That always reveals what the battle is really about. My enemy has a way of twisting the truth.

The Bible tells me that I will know the truth, and the truth shall set me free, The truth is, my struggle maybe something entirely different than I was led to believe. I trust the Holy Spirit to guide me into the heart of the matter. There are often things I need to see from God’s perspective. Aligning myself to God’s assessment of the situation is a major step to victory. When that becomes my normal response, my enemy will never again be able to gain a foothold on that territory. I recognize the lie before it has any effect on me. I have taken and kept territory.

There are battles, and there is all-out war. I have been visited by hell a few times. The worst part of it were the faces hell used to cause pain. There are times when the war I am surrounded by is beyond my ability to fight. What do I do then? Run! Run to my secret place where my enemy cannot reach me, cannot find me, no matter how hard he searches. I am covered, surrounded, and immersed in God’s presence. The battle belongs to the Lord. He has already won it all. That means that the enemy has no influence whatsoever in my life. Jesus has completely defeated him. I am in Christ. I stand in His victory.

There is a time to rest. The battle is over, but I am weary and wounded. Jesus is not a crutch, He is a stretcher. Climb on, take a deep breath, abandon yourself to His finished work, and meditate on these four words: REST IS A WEAPON.

Blessings,

Judy

THE EVENT THAT CHANGED IT ALL

THE EVENT THAT CHANGED IT ALL

In all of recorded history, and before, one event turned the cosmos in a new direction.

In one moment of time absolutely everything in heaven ad on earth changed forever.  All of heaven understood the impact this event would create on every living thing.  I would affect all things, both seen and unseen.

We easily recognize the symbol of this moment in history, but there is so much yet to learn about it.  Countless books have been written about it, each with valuable information, but its total influence has yet to be experienced.

A cross.  The ugliest instrument of execution known to men.  Sad to say that this particular day is not the only day that form of punishment has been used.  This day, however, was life-changing for every human being in human history; past, present and future.

What made such a claim?  An exchange that shook heaven and earth occurred by the person nailed to that cross.  Love beyond comprehension led Jesus, the Christ to this place.  But love alone did not keep Him there.

“Fix your eyes on Jesus.  He is the fountainhead and conclusion of faith.  He saw the joy (of mankind’s salvation) when He braved the cross and despised the shame of it.   Hebrews 12:2”   Mirror Bible

I would like to ask you a question….what is your emotional response when you think of the cross of Christ?  What mental images play out on the screen of your imagination, and how does it make you feel?

Our feelings surrounding this event speak volumes about our understanding of it.  Often I experience feelings of sorrow and grief over the realization of the love poured out for me.  I have also experienced shame, guilt, and regret as well.  Nearly every time these feeling arise I am focused on the suffering and tragedy of that dark day.

What if … I focused on the finished side of the cross?  What if the cross is actually my source of overwhelming joy?  What if wave after wave of the total success of the cross washed over me until I can clearly see what Jesus saw….the joy that was set before Him?

Living on the right side of the cross (the finished side) will transform how I see things, where my faith lays, what and why I believe, and the hope my life is grounded on.  It will even change my language.  Living on the right side of the cross means living in resurrection power.  It means seeing the full effect on the power over darkness.

Living on the right side of the cross means seeing what God sees, thinking the way He thinks, and speaking His language.  It means waking up every day fully empowered to be who God saw even before you were born.

It seems to me that the only way to really honor the memory of the cross and what Jesus accomplished there is not by sorrow and grief, but by living to the full extent of what was in God’s heart from the very beginning.

Blessings,   Judy

 

DUMPSTER DIVING

 

DUMPSTER DIVING

 

I recently heard one of the best illustrations that I want to share with you.

 

Our city has a wonderful crew of people who come by my home whenever I need them and give me a tremendous service.  They usually come early in the morning so they don’t disturb my routine.  Their job is simple, yet profound.  Here is how it works….  I leave my garbage out near the street.  These heroes come by and take it away.  Amazing.  Someone who literally removes my trash.  When it is gone, it is gone forever.  I am very grateful for that.  My trash is gone, and the container is left to fill up over and over again.

 

The people who remove my garbage don’t bring it back.  I never deal with it again, never have to look at it again, and never have to pick it up or handle it again.  I don’t even remember it again.  It is gone – completely and irrevocably.  It is taken to a local facility to be treated and properly disposed of.  On warm days my senses can detect the direction of the disposal site and I am reminded of the smelly past, but it no longer is my responsibility.

 

Of course you see a beautiful illustration of the words found in John 1:29 where the Baptist sees Jesus coming and exclaims,  “Look!  There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!”  There are similarities in both cases, with one major difference.   Jesus took it all.  Sin is not retrievable.  The most remarkable part of this is that it is all erased from God’s memory.  He will never again bring it up.  In His mind it is as though it never existed at all.   Even the scent is gone, and in its place is the sweet aroma of Jesus’ righteousness.

 

God has new plans for the old container, as well.   He took my sin, leaving the vessel filled with God’s essence.   I become a habitation of His attributes, His nature, His character and all that He is.

 

So, the next time you are inclined to go ‘dumpster-diving’ in regards to past sin, remember this lovely illustration and let Jesus have His full work in you.

 

Blessings,

Judy

HIGHER THOUGHTS

Source: HIGHER THOUGHTS

HIGHER THOUGHTS

HIGHER THOUGHTS

I made a recent discovery deeper into God’s thoughts.  While talking to someone about His great love, I made the suggestion that God’s grace must be accepted and received in order to find its way into our lives.  I believed that there was a process we needed to engage in that takes His offer off the table and into our lives.  As usual, the Holy Spirit was right there in my mind, giving me insight into the reality of grace.

I know that my thoughts are far below what God thinks and acts.  But I always assumed some things that I now realize may be putting Him in another box of human reasoning.  I assumed that God thinks the way I do about people and situations.  I assumed that men must make certain choices to find Him.  I assumed that it is entirely up to me to determine my spiritual condition. I assumed it is my obedience that secures my salvation.

God is not confined to my level of persuasion.  His ways are infinitely higher than my imagination can go.  My assumptions that He agrees with my reasoning only brings Him down to my level.  Instead, I believe He wants to raise my level of perception to His thoughts about people, situations, issues…. about nearly everything I know.

For example, what if I take the Scripture literally when, in John 3 Jesus said that He did not come into our world to judge or condemn us, but to save us.  I must ask, who is included in this scenario?   Only those who hear the gospel message and respond correctly?   Is God’s love reduced to depend on me, or is there something I am missing in my assumptions about who He loves, and how He loves?

I am coming to the conclusion that His love is so far-reaching and so big to include every human in human history.  Does His love reach those who have no way of hearing the truth of the gospel?  For that matter, what exactly is that truth?  The gospel is considered good news.  Good news does not discriminate or categorize people.   It includes people.

I believe God’s love can reach every human heart, without exception.  I believe that on the cross Jesus carried the world’s judgment and punishment, taking away our sin.  Such a powerful act of love only needed one time to achieve redemption for all mankind.  It is universal and extremely personal at the same time.  One redemptive act gave salvation to all men; each individual needs to believe it.  His love is much more than something offered.  It is freely given.  It is in place whether I believe it or not.  I can, however, say no.

This line of thinking causes me to re-examine my assumptions about who God is and how He  feels about men.  The account of creation in Genesis 1 gives us a glimpse of what He was thinking when He created mankind.  “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”    Love so strong and secure is the only motivation that can cause such a profound statement.  This love pours itself into the one it loves, without reservation or condition.  And it loves every person in the very same way.

I intend to align my thoughts and assumptions with what God says is truth.    The truth is, it is not my obedience that secures my redemption.  It was Jesus’ obedience that accomplished it all.

 

Blessings,   Judy

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