All posts tagged: salvation

Jesus Will Return. Will You be Saying, “Hosanna?”

Have you ever wondered why Christians celebrate Palm Sunday? Here is the scene: In Matthew 21, we read about Jesus making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He comes in riding on a donkey, as prophesied by Zechariah. He is greeted by  crowds celebrating Him. Some of the people put their cloaks in the street and others put out palm branches—both were signs of welcoming the humble King. The crowd is shouting, “Hosanna in the highest!” (Hosanna means “Save, we pray.”) Less than a week later, the crowds chose to release the prisoner Barabbas and demanded Jesus be crucified (Matthew 27:15-23). For a number of reasons (ultimately, God’s own purpose), Jesus was not living up to Israel’s expectations. Not only was He not appearing to be a strong military leader, He was even making claims to be God. “Blasphemy!” they cried—and killed Him. They wanted a King to deliver them from Gentile rule—the same way King David had defeated the Philistines. Sadly, many people seem to think the same way today: “If God won’t give me …

Remembering Christmas in the New Year

I love Christmas! It is an incredible time of year. Normally I’m not allowed to bring the outside in, but every year Karen is so excited to go with our girls and cut down a tree and decorate it with them. We bring out decorations that have been boxed up for 11 months and spread them all over our house. We bake special treats, sing seasonal songs, and get together with family. I enjoy giving things to others and seeing how it makes them happy. Watching my girls open presents and get excited about simple things like socks and doll clothes makes it all the more fun. A couple of years ago, Reese, my oldest daughter, received toys for a doll from a grandparent when we saw them before Christmas Day, the day she was getting the doll. I don’t think she put two and two together, but if she had, she would have been able to see what was coming. This is Christmas for us. It’s like a gift you get on Christmas Eve …

Who is This King Called Jesus?

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days. – Micah 5:2 The long awaited ruler from Bethlehem mentioned in Micah is Jesus of Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem and the angel testified, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). As you know, this Jesus was a different kind of King. But still, how could the angel say Jesus’ kingdom would never end, when we know Jesus died? If you go to Israel today, you won’t see Jesus sitting on any throne. If we look at the Gospel of John, John does not include an account of the birth of Jesus. However, we see John the Baptist give a stunning proclamation when he sees Jesus: Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! – John …

A Quiet Night for Grace to Arrive

During the heavy snow in December 2017, I was at work. To say the shift was busy would be an understatement. Of course, with all the snow on the ground, traveling was much slower than normal. Luckily, there were very few people on the road. Most folks had heeded the warnings to just stay home, often with no power. Once we would get as far as the fire engine could go, we would leave it behind and continue on foot to our destination. Without the chaos of people milling around, without the lights emanating from every house, and even without the noise of our truck in the background, our trip to our destination was always so serene. The only sound was us talking, the wind blowing the tree branches, and the snow crunching under our feet. The only lights were from our flashlights, transformers arcing off as the power company worked feverishly to restore power, and the glow coming up from the blanket of white. My favorite modern Christmas song is “Winter Snow” by Audrey …

God Knows Your Mess and Accepts You

-written by Betsie Richards I’m sitting in an ICU waiting room, wishing I wasn’t here. To distract myself, I people watch. I’ve caught myself wondering the stories of all these people and their families. How did they end up here? What’s wrong with their loved one? Do they feel like we do? I could go up and introduce myself and get to know them but… yikes. Strangers. One thing I’ve noticed about my Mom during this hospital stay is, when she is feeling well enough, she makes a point to find out everyone’s name. Her nurse, the tech, the person taking her for a CT; then she typically thanks them by name. I’ve been scolding myself for not doing the same. For being willing to leave those I meet as anonymous or outsiders to my world. Sometimes I wonder if the shepherds felt like outsiders? We don’t know much about them specifically- not even their names. We know they weren’t the social elite of the time, they were probably smelly and dirty, they basically lived …

You Can Have Unshakable Confidence in Christ

Have you ever heard of Saint Augustine? Before his conversion to Christ, Augustine was known for his sexual appetite. He often indulged his flesh, as all unbelievers do in some form. While traveling, Augustine heard the gospel and responded in faith and repentance. Upon returning home, it is said that his former lover called out to him “Augustine, Augustine, it is I!” Augustine turned to her and said, “Yes, but it is not I.” Something changed in Augustine. His salvation not only altered what he believed in his mind, but also his desires and his will. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul writes, “For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if one died for all, then all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised” (CSB, emphasis mine). I wish I could draw out every single treasure in these two verses. I’m often overwhelmed by this passage of Scripture as …

You Are More Than Just Useful

-Written by Matt Clotfelter If you are anything like me, you probably find yourself at night, lying in bed, reviewing your day. During that review, these questions come to me: Did I make a difference to someone today? Did I serve God in this world? Were my choices driven by my will or God’s will? I want to do my best to serve God faithfully with my life and work. I don’t want to interfere with His plan, but be useful to God. As we look at the story of the redemptive work of God, there were only a few people who had truly pivotal roles in the plan. There is Jesus, of course, who is God come down to earth to redeem man. There is Mary, who gave birth to Jesus. (Jesus had to get here somehow!) (see Isaiah 7:14). We find Judas, who betrays Jesus. Pilate, who has this opportunity to release Jesus, but instead, he caves to the crowd and orders him be crucified (see Isaiah 53:3). Finally, we find the soldiers who …

God Hears and Responds to Your Distress

Jonah prayed. Before we look at some of the aspects of his prayer, let it sink in that he prayed. In chapter one, we learn that Jonah tried to flee from the Lord’s presence by boarding a boat to Tarsus. In response, the Lord caused a mighty storm. The storm ceases once the pagans on the ship cry out to the Lord and throw Jonah into the sea. The Lord appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah. “Then Jonah prayed” (Jonah 2:1). I remember hearing this story when I was a child and I was always thought that the Lord was punishing Jonah by appointing the fish. But when we examine Jonah’s prayer, we see that’s not what Jonah thought! I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! – Jonah 2:6 Jonah was going to die if not for the fish. The fish was not an instrument of punishment; the fish was an …

In Light of the Gospel, Treat Others With Love

This past Sunday Shannon preached a very powerful message through the second chapter of the book of Ephesians. Some theologians and biblical scholars refer to the book of Ephesians as “the great epistle” because of its incredible “gospel depth.” In just six chapters, Paul explains the gospel of Jesus Christ and adequately explains how that same gospel should affect the life of every believer. I would personally argue that chapter 2  is the richest in content and truth. Here Paul is reminding the Church at Ephesus of their prior identity before they were “in Christ;” to show believers just how lost in sin we were and how great the grace of God is for saving us despite our wickedness. Paul begins with a clear gospel message (see verses 1-10).  In verse 1 Paul reiterates the fact that we were “dead because of [our] disobedience and [our] many sins” and in verses 2 and 3 he even goes so far to say that we were following the devil! Then Paul hits us with the gospel and explains what grace and …

Are You Living Like You’re Free?

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:4-7) Are you in hock? I was for a long time, but not anymore. One day Dad came home from work and said, “I’ve got something I want to show you.” So I went out to his truck and watched him tenderly unwrap a double barrel 20 gauge shotgun. He was so proud of it. The way he held it and treated it you would have thought there was a baby inside that blanket. It was …