Merry Christmas


Christmas is a wonderful time of year, celebrating a wonderful story, wise men following a star, gifts from afar, and a virgin giving birth in a cattle stall. A Holy child conceived by the Holy Ghost. His name was “God with us”. God became a man! ….But it was not enough!

If the story had ended there, or even if it had ended with the child growing up to be a great teacher and doing mighty works for God on behalf of the less fortunate, it would just be another story of a great and good man. But it did not end there.

This man came not only to live a perfect life but to die as a perfect sacrifice, a substitute for every man, fully satisfying
God the Father’s just demands. Tens of thousands of volumes have been written about his death on the cross. ……But it was not enough.

If the story had ended there, it would have been a great story, unique among all the stories of men ever told. God had come in flesh and paid for the transgressions of men every where and now God the Father could freely forgive men their sins and not compromise his holiness and justice. ……But it was not enough.

This innocent God-man had committed no crime but was executed on a Roman cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. And on the third day, just as he had predicted, He arose from the dead. He was alive! He had been glorified! His body was now fit not only for planet earth but heaven as well. Sin had been defeated. The devil and hell had been openly laid bare and also defeated. And, even death, the greatest enemy of mankind had itself died. Death, hell, and the grave would no longer be victors over those who know the Life.

Solely because of Christ’s life and work, both in living and dying and rising again, God could now forgive the sins of anyone who would trust the Christ of God and walk with Him. …But it was not enough!

Not enough you ask? Yes, to forgive sins was not enough. Because God cold wipe the slate clean, forgiving all your past sins, but there is a problem. You will sin again. Yes, just as every man since Adam, all of us sin. Even the best, most sincere Christian, still lives in a sin tainted body
,
a body that desires what God does not approve. And each of us has an ego that wants to be polished and protected every day. So if forgiveness is not enough what could God possibly do more?

God, the righteous judge of the universe, would declare wicked sinners “righteous” based on Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. ….That is quite enough!

The great Apostle Paul gave some reasons why he was not ashamed of the good news about Jesus. He said it is the dynamite of God unto salvation for everyone and that in that powerful story “the righteousness of God is revealed”. What is this “righteousness of God”? It is the person, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Because of the babe of Bethlehem, God takes away sin from wicked sinners and puts it to the credit of Jesus. But He doesn’t stop there. He also takes the righteousness of Jesus and credits it to the account of the sinner. So every man, woman, and boy and girl who puts their trust in the claims of the good news about Jesus and obeys it’s demands is made righteous.

Only perfect people are fit for living in the very presence of God in heaven or in the new earth. Only the completely pure can abide in His holy presence. God seeks after wicked sinners and based solely upon Christ he chooses them to be His own, He draws them to Himself by the work of the Holy Spirit. He convinces, convicts, and converts them by making them righteous as He is righteous, holy as he is holy, and finally, immortal as He is immortal.

This is what Christmas is all about. The beauty of that night long ago is only understood by the beatings Jesus took for you and me. The expensive gifts given to the holy child are only appreciated when we understand what the greatest gift is, the blood of Christ.

The babe, the body, the blood, the bounty, the beauty of holiness, freely given to all, and for all, who will turn from their own way and follow Jesus in simple child like trust.

Religion…is not enough. Acts of kindness…is not enough. Being a committed member of a church…is not enough. Only Jesus Christ himself is enough. He is the only hope, He is righteousness, He is life, is He yours?

See what God has given! Merry Christmas!

Christianity is Christ


Christianity is Christ.

Christianity is not:
   . Going to church
   . Living by the Golden Rule
   . Doing acts of kindness
   . Being a member of a certain church
   . Being right about certain Bible doctrines
   . Doing certain things on Sunday
   . Living a life of piety and self denial

Christianity is Christ.

When a person becomes a Christian:
   1. His sins are forgiven
   2. He is given eternal life
   3. He becomes God’s child both by birth and adoption
   4. He becomes an heir of God’s bounty
   5. He is declared not guilty of sin
   6. He is declared just
   7. He is declared righteous
   8. He is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit
   9. He is sealed by the Holy Spirit
 10. He is gifted by the Holy Spirit
 11. He is promised resurrection
 12. He will never perish
 13. He will never die
 14. He is in Christ
 15. Christ is in Him
 16. He is hidden with Christ in God
 17. He is held in God’s hand
 18. Christ will never leave him or forsake him
 19. He has access to God in prayer
 20. He is a priest
 21. He is a partaker of God’s nature
 22. He is seated with Christ in the heavens
 23. He has been chosen by God
 24. He has been elected
 25. He has been predestined to be a son
 26. He has been called
 27. He has been glorified
 28. He has been washed
 29. He has been cleansed
 30. He has redeemed
 31. He has been added to the body of Christ
 32. He has overcome the evil one
 33. He has been counted worthy
 34. His eyes have been opened
 35. He has a new ability to love unconditionally
 36. He can say no to sin
 37. He is at rest
 38. The ordinances of the law are no longer against him
 39. He is free
 40. He is not condemned
 41. He will never be condemned
 42. He is not appointed to wrath
 43. He will be rewarded
 44. He has treasure reserved in heaven
 45. He is kept by the power of God
 46. He cannot be separated from God
 47. He has the Son of God
 48. He has the Father
 49. He has joy
 50. He has peace with God
 51. He has the peace of God
 52. He is one with God
 53. He is loved by the Father just as He loves Jesus.
 54. He has been born again
 55. He is a new creation
 56. He has God’s law written on his heart
 57. He died with Christ
 58. He was raised with Christ
 59. Christ is his life
 60. He is in the kingdom of light
 61. He has been granted repentance
 62. He has been given faith
 63. He has been given precious promises
 64. He is an ambassador of Christ
 65. He is an alien on eath
 66. He is a citizen of heaven
 67. He is a lover of good
 68. He hates sin
 69. He loves his brother
 70. He hears the apostolic teaching
 71. He abides in Christ
 72. He stands in grace
 73. The Holy Spirit assures him he is safe
 74. Christ is his life
 75. He does sin as a lifestyle
 76. He has Christ as an advocate for him in heaven when he does sin
 77. He walks in the light
 78. He knows the voice of Jesus
 79. He follows Him
 80. He will not follow another.
 81. He has victory over death, hell, and the grave 
 82. He is being made like Jesus
 83. He is created for good works
 84. His greatest good is to glorify God

There is more but these quickly come to mind. Not one of them is man’s own doing. Everyone of them is true and relevant and experiential because of the person, work, and resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The only basis, the only ground upon which our salvation rests is Christ.

When a sinner changes his mind about the course of his life and puts his whole trust in Jesus He does not give that person anything apart from Himself. You see, what a lost sinner needs is life, he is spiritually dead. He needs righteousness for he is unrighteous. He needs redemption, for he is a slave to sin. He needs light because he is in darkness. He needs bread from heaven because he is starving. He needs the water of life for he is thirsty. He needs to be set free because he is under control of the evil one.

Christ can give nothing more than Himself. He Himself supplies every need. He is life, He is the light of the world, He is righteousness, He is our peace, He is our assurance, He is our joy, He is our glory, He is our hope, He is the author of our faith, He is the rock upon which we stand.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.” Religion will leave you wanting. Church membership and attendance will leave you lacking. Acts of kindness, giving to the poor, and even martyrdom will leave you dead in your sins. Only our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ is able and willing to give you life, forgiveness, righteousness, and peace.

We are only accepted by God “in the beloved“, we are only chosen “in Him“. The mystery of God that was hidden in ages past is this, “Christ in you, the hope of glory“. That’s it, Christianity is Christ and can be nothing less, and nothing more is possible.

“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”(1 John 5:10-12 ESV)

It is hard to imagine how anyone could misunderstand this clear message from God’s word. Sadly, many just don’t seem to get it. Like the legalists Paul addressed long ago in his letter to the churches of Galatia who insisted that Christians be circumcised, many today insist on adding to what Christ accomplished over 2000 years ago and what God planned in eternity past.

Many preach a salvation that is “God’s part and your part”. Your part is to repent (change your mind) and believe on Jesus Christ. If you have Him (A very big “IF”) what more can you possibly imagine you need? There is nothing on earth or in heaven that is a substitute or a supplement for what Christ has accomplished on behalf of sinners. Trust Him alone, He will not always wait.

By grace are you saved.

His peace,
Royce

 

Morning Sounds


I am a morning person and my wife isn’t so my movement in the house about daylight could easily be confused with that of a thief, carefully placed steps, opening the cabinet door purposefully, taking a coffee cup with surgical precision so that it doesn’t touch another, and then placing it on the counter as if it might explode if handled roughly. One heaping spoon of Maxwell House is met with instant hot water and then as I very carefully stir the mixture avoiding the sides of the cup the hot water dispenser groans and gurgles to quickly replenish the supply of almost boiling hot water.

Once comfortably positioned in a rocker on the front porch, a nice long sip of hot java, and the morning sounds start to gently massage my whole being and I am delightfully at peace. The assortment of birds have been hard at their morning concert long before I take my seat in the audience. A distant owl adds his haunting hoots without fail every morning. A few times each week I hear a woodpecker having breakfast in a nearby tree. I wait….and am not disappointed, for the buzz of hummingbird wings and the almost squeaky chirp as they visit day lilies, hibiscus, roses, and the two feeders purposely positioned near my morning perch.

The distant drone of a truck over a mile away slowly fades as it labors toward Arkansas. Then, right on cue, every week day, I hear the squeak and rattle of a neighbor’s garage door slowly rising. A door closes, then another, and the garage door repeats its morning ritual with its unpleasant groans. As the neighbor’s van backs into the road the familiar crunching of tires against stones reminds me of how nice it will be when our road is paved. More compressed gravel sounds and one, then another, and then another vehicle takes it’s drivers to the paper mill in Bastrop, the university class room, the hospital office, and the community center in Monroe. I hear the whurr of all terrain tires slowing to a stop as one and then another of a parade of cars and trucks stop and then go off to daily duties down Highway 134.

Finally I hear tires against gravel again and the much anticipated “flop” as my newspaper hits the concrete at the end of my driveway. I hear a faint fluttering sound as the cool breeze toys with the corners of the paper in my lap and enjoy the tinkle of a slightly disturbed wind chime. I hear a distant dog greet his master as he does every morning when he comes out of the house and starts to the car. I can imagine from hearing the pitch of his bark that he is an unattractive, pudgy faced mutt, about 20 pounds, whose only purpose is to add to variety to my morning and make his owner’s yard look bad.

After the news is digested, the cup empty, and the thermometer rises, I come back inside and carefully place my coffee cup in the sink without a sound and then quietly walk a few steps to my office to check the Drudgereport and email. The only sounds are the clicking of the keys as answer email and the occasional sound of cool air flowing from the vent in the ceiling over my desk as the air conditioner faithfully works to offset a warming morning. Suddenly I hear the vibration of my cell phone as it moves slowly to the right on my oak desk as a call comes in. I reach for it frantically so I can open it before the loud ring starts at the end of about 4 vibration pulses. It is a reminder of a noon meeting at the office.

As I am about done at my desk I hear the familiar sigh of my sweet woman as she stretches and begins her agonizing routine of getting fully awake. I soon hear the banging of a cabinet door, the clainging of a coffee cup on a plexiglas cutting board, the unmistakeable sound of a spoon rotating in a cup of hot coffee and then the nicest voice I know says “You want to go outside with me?” “Sure” I reply “Let me get another cup of coffee and I’ll be right out”.

So it goes at my house most every day and I never tire of the morning sounds that greet me. I am thankful for another day God has given as a present to be enjoyed, a time for rejoicing and gladness. When I am reminded of those in our world who are greeted with the sound of gunfire, the cry of a hungry child, the siren of a police car, or the angry shouts unhappy parents it is a fresh reminder of how blessed I am. I’m 63 and if I live 20 or 30 more years I’ll never understand why in God’s providence He chose me to be so kind to. I am very, very grateful.

His peace,
Royce