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Faith Now More Than Ever

Greetings Narrow Gate,

As I write this the impeachment trial is getting under way. Now I understand that there is a great divide down the middle of our country (symbolically, not geographically) and that some are glad and some disappointed. I am rather disgusted by all of this. It's sad to see fencing and barbed wire in the capital. Open borders, fenced in capital, it is a new administration. Interesting when you look at the details of the differences. Pray for our country.

On a totally unrelated note: my tailbone. I have purchased a doughnut cushion for my sore tailbone. It is an ignominious purchase, though my wife tells me it's not. No matter what she say's I feel as though I have passed further into my own private Twilight Zone. Have you ever seen a dog after a bad hair cut? That downcast look of shame and self-humiliation? This is how I feel as I sit on my New Throne. It does seem to lessen the pain though.

Now despite the mess in DC, and the mess of my sore pride, and the pandemic, We are here to praise God. Because, Easter is coming. I want to talk about Jesus. Specifically, about the work that Jesus did for you and me.

The three questions guiding our look at the scripture today are th same as the last few weeks:

* Why Jesus? Why do we need Jesus?

* What happened while Jesus was on the cross?

* Who is Jesus?

We will be in the book of Romans today. Just a note about Romans: It is said that Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley all met the Holy Spirit while either reading Romans or Hearing Romans preached. I find that many preachers introduce Romans as a boring read. I am just the opposite. That's the some people's point of view. If you want more of the Spirit, like the afore mentioned church fathers, I believe you'll find it in the book of Romans.

Also, today I will reference scripture from the New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips, aka, The Phillips Translation. I do enjoy this translation, as with many other translations. I recommend, as an old bookseller, using different translations. It makes me more aware of the living nature of the word of God. No matter how many times we may read our favorite scripture, there is always something new, from a new perspective, waiting to be revealed.

Romans 5:6 Phillips Translation,

"And we can see that it was while we were powerless to help ourselves that Christ died for sinful men and women."

We are at our most powerless point as humans when we are deep in sin. As slaves to sin, the unrepentant sinner is in his or her most helpless state. We may not even be aware of how bad of situation that we are in, so lost and forsaken we may be. Before Christ, we all were forsaken, powerless to cure or redeem our own sinful nature. There was nothing that the sinner could do to reconcile their own sinful nature. There is nothing that we can do to reconcile our sin with God. That is nothing, in and of ourselves. Romans 5:7-8,

"In human experience it is a rare thing for one person to give their life for another, even if the latter is a good person, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God's amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us."

The point in our lives that we were at our worst in terms of sinfulness, this is the very point at which Christ died for us. This is because, Christ died for that sin, or those sins, when we were at our worst, as well as, all the other sins of our lives. Jesus took the worst sins of each of us, past, present and future, and carried them to the cross where they were nailed up for eternity. Nailed up to be remembered, or nailed up to be forgotten. If we ignore Christ and his call, our sins are there to be remembered at the judgment. If we turn to Christ, repent of our sins, and seek forgiveness, believing in Christ, these sins are forgotten. This is the proof and the power of God's love. The power to forget wrongs is a godly power. Humans cannot do this on their own.

Think of someone who has wronged you in the last month or so. You may have reconciled with them, you may have said that you forgive them, but you still remember the hurt and pain of how they wronged you. God doesn't remember our sins once they're forgiven. That's a godly forgiveness. Micah 7:19,

"You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our inequities into the depths of the sea."

We are the only ones that deal with the memory of our forgiven sins. Romans 5:9-11,

"Moreover if he did that for us while we were sinners, now that we are a people justified by the shedding of his blood, what reason have we to fear the wrath of God? If, while we were his enemies, Christ reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely now that we are reconciled we may be perfectly certain of our salvation through his living in us (Holy Spirit). Nor, I am sure, is this a matter of bare salvation--we may hold our heads high in the light of God's love because of the reconciliation which Christ has made."

God would not have sent his son if he didn't want to redeem and save us. Salvation is the end result, with eternal life included. God wants and desires our fellowship and praise. He wants to delight in us, the way we delight in fellowship with our friends and family. Christ did not die on the cross so that God could condemn us. God's not sabotaging this salvation, that's Satan's work. The work of Jesus is a complete work. He did not take any shortcuts. He died for us. And he rose for each of us as well. He need do nothing else for each of us.

We don't squeak into heaven, none of us do. Because the price Christ paid for each of us was at the highest price, because our salvation's purchase price was based on when you and I were at our highest degree of sinfulness. Comparing human to human, this sinfulness can vary, however, at the total human level, it was when we each were at our worst. This makes me shudder at the sheer weight of sin and darkness that Christ took with him to the cross for all of humanity.

So, put your worldly worries and fears aside and bask in the realization that you who have placed your faith in God, are saved to the utmost, and in Christ's keeping. God loves you and nothing can change that. Jesus died for you and nothing can change that. Romans 4:24-25, 5:1-5,

"Faith is to be reckoned as righteousness to us also, who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered to death for our sins and raised again to secure or justification."

"Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future. This doesn't mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys--we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us (our proof of purchase receipt by Jesus)."

Look, I know that many of you are at a low ebb right now. Whatever the word, sad, depressed, disappointed, frustrated, mad, confused, sick, tired, exhausted, burned out, disheartened, maybe even defeated, but these are feelings. Feelings are temporary. The reality and big picture is this, Christ died for us to reconcile us to God. Whatever we may battle now, we no longer battle God. On top of that, God is on our side, He loves us and wants what's best for us. We are never alone, though it may not seem that way always. We are never forsaken, God is always there, giving us what we need, not necessarily what we want.

Our future is not death, but eternal life. Our hope is not in a political party, the economy or our health. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. There is nothing more dependable than Jesus. Join me as we cling to that steady hope.

Why Jesus? Because with Jesus came our freedom from sin. Without Jesus we would sall still be slaves to sin.

What happened on the cross? Jesus took the worst of our sin, from when we were our most sinful, in addition to the totality of our sin, and nailed it to the cross.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is our deliverer!

Do no harm, do good and stay in love with God.

Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor The King.


Thad Brown

Opportunity House

and Harmony UMC

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