In the beginning of our I served as part-time assistant pastor of my home church. The only job I could find to support my family was working with the road department of the county.
I wasn’t especially good at this but my wife and I had developed a bad habit. We liked to eat, and since the grocery stores didn’t usually hand out free food, I thought I better take the job I could find.
It was great in that it brought me into close contact with co-workers who didn’t know the Lord. That is an element that many of us in the ministry miss.
One of the more ornery co-workers was called *Jonesy. This little fellow had a big, vulgar mouth and ran it often. One day at lunch, though, he said something that has stuck with me for over forty years since.
“Preacher, if you have to do everything in that book (the Bible) to make it to heaven, there won’t be enough people there for a two-handed party of cards.”
I don’t remember how I responded, but I know how I wish I had responded because for once Jonesy had said something extremely intelligent.
The Old Testament shows us how holy God is, but his holiness only accentuates our unholiness. If we did perfectly everything that God commanded us, we could earn our ticket to eternal life, I suppose.
“You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the Lord your God. 5 You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:4-6New King James Version (NKJV)
No One Is Perfect
One little problem pokes it head up. I don’t know anyone who has kept all of God’s commands perfectly, do you? Actually, I do know of One, the Lord Jesus, but outside of Him—no one.
If our best efforts are all we can offer God, Jonesy was right. No hope.
Sin puts us into another, more ominous category. Galatians 3:10, NKJV “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’”
That means that we are in BIG trouble. This particular curse involves eternal separation from God and never-ending punishment.
Whoa! Aren’t you glad you read Coffee Stains today to get your weekly dose of encouragement?
Actually, I do have some good news. God wasn’t any happier about this dilemma caused by our sin than we are. That is what the Cross is all about.
God loved us so much that He sent His precious Son Jesus. He died for our sin in our place.
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) …” Galatians 3:13 (NKJV)
And God the Father accepts that sacrifice.
Face it. If God wanted to look closely at any one of us and judge all our thoughts, words and actions, we’d be in bad shape.
So, He accepts Jesus’ sacrifice in our place.
When we worked in Luxembourg an elderly lady, Josephine, came to the Lord. We called her Aunt Phinney.
Sometime after coming to the Lord, she shared what Jesus meant to her. She spoke of being raised in a traditional religion and being taught severely to do her duty.
“I was neither content nor happy,” she remembered, but continued, “Today, after having found the Lord, I also found joy and peace and the last years of my life are more wonderful than those before.
“I only regret that I didn’t find the true path to Jesus our Savior earlier. But, it is never too late to do the right thing and I’m glad to have found happiness for the rest of my life.
“I thank the Lord for his patience, his protection during the two wars that I’ve seen, for my health and especially for my new family that He gave me when I was alone and abandoned… Every day is a gift for me.”
Ah Jonesy, how right you were! But, the good news is that because of what Jesus has done there is going to be a crowd so vast that we can’t count it in heaven.
“So, David,” you ask, “How do I get to be a part of this heaven-crowd because I’m afraid that I’ve been depending on myself to make it.”
You pray to God in the Name of His Son Jesus. You ask forgiveness for your sin and your sins and you turn around to follow the Lord. Instead of trusting in yourself and how you are a good guy and all that, you realize that even your best doesn’t cut it.
You put your trust in Jesus, His death for you, and his resurrection. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead will reverberate through your life and make you a new creature.
He will give you power to live for Him. When you fall and come back asking forgiveness and deliverance, He will show you how strong He is in your life.
A “ready-for-heaven” person, you will be.
If you haven’t given your life to the Lord and allowed Him to become the Lord of your life, stop right now and do it.
(Jonesy isn’t his real name.* I changed his name here in case he’s still alive and still ornery.)
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“There is enough light for those who only desire to see, and enough obscurity for those who have a contrary disposition.”
― Blaise Pascal
photo: www.Flickr, creative commons, Jeff Golden Cards