A man dies and goes to heaven.Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter says, "Here's how it works.You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was.When you reach 100 points, you get in."
"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."
"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"
"Three points?" he says."Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service."
"Terrific!" says St. Peter. "That's certainly worth a point."
"One point?!!""I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."
"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," he says.
"Two points!?!!"Exasperated, the man cries. "At this rate the only way I'll get into heaven is by the grace of God."
"Bingo!100 points!Come on in!"
If you are accused of a crime, you may have the opportunity to go before a judge and jury of your peers to prove your innocence.The Bible teaches that mankind is guilty of sin, and Romans 6:23 says that the penalty for our sin is death.
Furthermore, God is our Righteous Judge, and He said the price for sin must be paid.Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for our sins through His death on the cross.
Now, it gets better!When Jesus bore our sins on the cross, it didn't make us any less guilty!Unlike being accused of a crime we didn't commit, and having the opportunity to prove our innocence, we remain in our guilt!ALTHOUGH WE ARE CONVICTED SINNERS, JESUS RECKONS US TO BE RIGHTEOUS… That's salvation by GRACE!Hallelujah!!
GospeLines Prayer:Righteous God, I don't get it!The world says that the law is in place to punish the wicked.But YOU say that I am guilty of sin, yet You treat me as though I am not.I will forever be amazed that GRACE is free, and SALVATION is forever and ever.Amen and amen.
“Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdomand insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” (Ephesians 1:15-17 - NLT)
In a recent Sunday school session, part of our discussion was on intercessory prayer.Our facilitator recalled the time before her surgery - people were praying and asking for God’s healing touch on her behalf.As she thought about all of those prayers, she commented that “God’s inbox is full!”
How many of us flood God’s inbox on behalf of others?We’re a “me, me,” society, so probably not as much or often as we should.
Jack Hayford said in his book, Prayer is Invading the Impossible, “Since only the white light of Calvary’s power can dissipate the black workings of hell, the only people who can change bleak circumstances and reverse the tide of encroaching evil wherever it rises are those who pray in Jesus’ name.”
When friends or co-workers are going through a rough time, do you pray for them?When they are delivered from bondage, do you give God the glory?When He heals their physical or mental afflictions, do you give Him thanks?
It’s easy to take His power for granted isn’t it?Yet, he doesn’t take us for granted!
GospeLines Prayer:Father, let me flood Your inbox with prayers for others rather than my own.While my problems may seem big and important, there are others who need You too!I thank You for sending friends, family and Angels to pray on my behalf.And, I shall continue to pray for Your children so I, too, can say… “God’s inbox is full!”
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, March 12, 2008
When I was in college, I received a strange phone call from my Dad, asking me to give my grandmother a ride home for the weekend.My school was 300 miles from my hometown, and making that detour would add a few miles, but that was no problem.Grandmother was spending the week at a farm near Comanche, TX, bathing with dirt in a bath house with several bins of dirt lined neatly in a row.
The rumor was, that this dirt had a special quality which could heal certain type of ailments for which modern medicine had found no cure.For a certain fee, one could spend a week wallowing in the mud and dirt in hopes of a miracle.
Before we mock this practice, superstition affects most of us in some way, i.e., knock on wood, walk around a leaning ladder, throw salt over your shoulder, or alter your course to avoid the path of a black cat.In another sense, if we wear religious jewelry for purposes other than testimony or decoration, or if we surround ourselves with statues of biblical figurines because we believe they protect us in some way, we are victims of superstition.
Bethesda was known as a place of healing.Beneath the pool, there flowed a subterranean river.At certain times the pressure would cause bubbles to rise to the top.The first person into the pool at that precise moment was thought to gain healing of any disease or deformity.That’s why it was surrounded by the blind, the lame and the paralyzed.When Jesus told the invalid man to “Get up!” he declared that superstition, angelic cures and miraculous means are not necessary to the Messiah’s power to heal.
Oh, my dear friend, please forgive the length of this writing today.There is another powerful thought in those words of Jesus, “Get up!”He was asking the man to do something he had not done in 38 years!Jesus was asking the impossible of this poor invalid person to pick up his bed and walk away.But he did it.He might well have argued with Jesus.Instead, he obeyed, and by faith he walked.
GospeLines Prayer:My Lord and my God, the next time you say to my feet, ‘Walk,’ I pray that you will forgive me if I strive to run for You.I want to be a man who responds to You by faith when You speak to me.Amen and amen.
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He returned to Galilee.Leaving Nazareth, He went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali - to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death (land of darkness)a light has dawned."(Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:12-16)
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17)
Jesus preached to His chosen people, the Jews.But, the Jews saw their religious position as lofty, believing that by their heritage they were above the Gentiles.They were proud of this and it showed in their theology and lifestyle. They were living in the "shadow of death," the "land of darkness;" but, because of their pride, they didn't recognize their position.
Their boasting of position and rank in the Kingdom is well documented. Jesus said; stop looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking that you deserve anything you have.All that is yours is because of My Father's will, mercy and grace, not your ranking in society or anything you have done or could ever do. The Jews were looking to the coming Kingdom all their lives; but, when it came, they missed it because of pride. Jesus' message has not changed, if you humble yourself, you can walk in the Kingdom today.
Who is assured of a place in the Kingdom? Jesus said:
“Blessed (happy) are the poor (Those powerless to accomplish anything by themselves) inspirit (Human spirit - The power, by which we feel, think, and decide), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Dominion, the right or authority conferred on Christians in the Christ's kingdom).” (Matthew 5:3 - NIV)
"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." (Message)
"Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous - with life, joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! (AMP)
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." (NLT)
This message is worth repeating in different translations because it is so important that we fully understand His words.
If we're "poor in knowledge," we have "limited" knowledge and need help from others to understand some complicated things. If we're "poor in money," we have "limited" money and need help from others (loans) to make large purchases. If we're "poor in spirit," we have "limited" spirit and cannot reach the Kingdom of Heaven on our own - we need help. In this case, the only help that will be successful is help from the Lord Jesus. He asks us to depend only on Him.
Do you realize your need for Him and depend only on Him; or, do you depend on yourself or other people? Has your heart been circumcised by the Spirit; or, are you living by some written code?
Paul tells us that: "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." (Romans 2:28-30 NIV)
If we live according to our spirit, we will have our minds set on what the world desires; but, if we live in accordance with God's Spirit, we will have our minds set on what He desires. (Romans 8:4-6)
When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, God did not give us the spirit of the world but His own Spirit so that we could understand the things that are from Him. When we speak of His Kingdom, we shouldn’t express ideas based on human wisdom (our "poor spirit") but ideas revealed to us by His Spirit so that we can express spiritual truths in spiritual words. (1st Corinthians 2:12-13)
We are all members of one body; and, if we’re all in Christ's body, we're all connected to each other by His Spirit (Ephesians 4:25) Therefore, everything we say to each other should be from His Spirit so that our words will bring encouragement to those who are "poor in spirit." (Ephesians 4:29-31)
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being likeminded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:1-3 - NIV)
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
Pikes Peak Highway is a nineteen mile journey from Cascade, Colorado to the summit.The sign at the entrance says "Elevation: 7,400 ft."In 1974, driving a small four door Nissan, with 4-on-the-floor, it looked a lot higher to this Texas flat-lander.But I was young and daring so off we went toward the 14,110 ft. summit.
I have been told that the drive is beautiful.But I was too busy trying to stay away from the edge to enjoy the breathtaking view, straight down, with nothing to keep me from going over the side but my sweaty palms on the steering wheel. I don't have to tell you that I was scared.
That's my life.You and I often find ourselves on the Pikes Peak Highway of life with that scared feeling in the pit of our stomachs.Sometimes it gets so frightening that we forget to enjoy the view.
Just before Jesus left this earth, he told His disciples that He would not leave them alone, but that the Comforter would be with them.It was His way of saying, "Don't be too concerned about the risks, just enjoy the ride.I will be with you."
Driving those 19 miles up Pikes Peak, you have to learn to live with the edge.It's not going to go away.In life, we face the edge every day, just the same way.But Jesus is there with us, steering us, keeping us safe.Be assured that the view is worth seeing and enjoying... take a chance, let Jesus be your protection and bask in the beauty of His creation.He is in charge of it.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, forbid that I would go through life without enjoying the beauty of it all because I fear the dangers it brings.When I am brought close to the edge, remind me that You are there to keep me safe and to steer me onto the correct course.Amen and amen.