Here is a thought for you. How much time do you think about your ticket when you are in the theater? Sure, the ticket is important and you keep it in your pocket, but don’t you get involved in what is going on around you when you’re in there? Do you see other people staring at their tickets oblivious to where they are at? Of course not. Who in their right mind would go just for that reason?
Ok, let’s use this as a bit of an analogy. The ticket is your forgiveness and the theater is the abundant life Jesus promised us. Unfortunately, religion would have you fixated on the ticket so that you miss the main event!
I would never discount what Jesus did for us concerning sin but there is so much more. If you find yourself in a continuous battle with sin (failing, asking for forgiveness, failing, asking……over and over) then you are missing the abundant life. You were not redeemed to be redeemed over and over.
Stop bringing sacrifices to the Lord when you mess up. Your sacrifices always require another one while His Sacrifice ends them all. As long as you feel the responsibility to ‘deal’ with something Jesus ‘dealt’ with, you’re just looking at the ticket. The relief that seems to come when you pray or do something for God because you sin is nothing like the joy of knowing you are already forgiven, for everything.
Enjoy the show.
PS refreshments will be served!
I had an interesting dream this morning in that place between asleep and awake. I thought I’d give it a shot and try to pen what it meant for me. If you prefer short reads then I apologize for the length ahead of time. There’s a small room in most of our homes with a lock on the door. Go there and I promise you’ll have this read before your legs fall asleep. You will find this interesting, and if your little bit tech savvy, even more so.
In my dream there were compartments or divided spaces in my chest or upper torso. Although it didn’t seem odd to me, as I peered into my body, I could see each area had thoughts in them. Not only thoughts, but conflicts and questions about those thoughts. One area or ‘room’, if you will, contained pain. Physical pain. I could actually feel it! ‘Should I go to the doctor? Is this life-threatening? What should I do? God will help me. What if he doesn’t?’ Another room was filled with mistakes or ‘character flaws’. At this point, I didn’t care for either room. But this one was so busy and full of confusion that it was really hard to tell exactly what was going on. I just felt condemned and wanted to shut the door somehow. I could see several other rooms but I chose not to look!
Seeing that there was no solution, my analytical mind jumped into overdrive to try and bring relief. At that time I was reminded of computer programs designed to speed up your system, remove clutter and defrag your hard drive. Almost instantaneously I realized that none of these solutions ever worked for my computer problems. In fact, in most cases, they complicated the situation. Then it occurred to me. Reformat the whole darn thing!
Now if you’ve ever had a virus on your computer or issues that just could not be resolved, then you probably know what that means. It basically means a clean slate. Nothing on it, just blank space. If you would like to save anything, then you need to back it up. And if you’re like me, then you don’t trust anything on your computer after it gets in that condition. Just save the pictures and important docs and burn off the rest!
Well back to the dream. I thought to myself ‘I’ll reformat every room, save some of the memories and take my chances with brand-new’. At that point I heard Cathy telling me that the sausage was done. Lol.
Awake, I understood the dream clearly. The world around us produces and bombards us with ‘info’ continuously. How we have dealt with life is our ‘software’. Our brain is ‘the processor’ and our heart is the ‘hard drive’. Many times, the software on my computer has been the culprit. A lot of software promises great things but are loaded with spyware, adware and viruses. For many of us, how we’ve been taught and learned to respond to life has been marred with ‘ad-ware’, ‘spyware’ and ‘viruses’ from the information the world has given us. Many simple life decisions bog us down because of confusion and fear. Our identity has become so fragmented that we don’t know who we are. We download anything and everything to aid in our quest for our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. There is a way to reformat! Let me explain.
First of all, in this little allegory, let’s not reuse the old software once we have been reformatted. Keep in mind that when you reformat, you are not adding a program to the old messed up system. You are starting completely from a pristine, clean and un-used place. Quite frankly, the ‘old software’ was the real problem. Like Dr. Phil would say ‘How’s that workin for ya?’ On to the reformat.
No box to check here ‘accepting terms and conditions’. Just press the button when you see the question ‘Are you sure you want to reformat?’ At this time, you understand that the old was not working. You are done with all it offered and you want to start brand new. Fresh with no strings. That has to sound good to you or you will never mouse over the word ‘yes’ and……… click. Ok, now to match the allegory with real life terms. God made us to live life with a clean slate. Not bogged down with ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. Not in constant expectation with disappointment or ‘please wait’. Not with fearware or painware or unaware. God doesn’t load us with spyware and Trojan horses to make sure we are doing what is right or ‘test’ us to see if we have faith. This is all in the ‘old covenant software’, gone in the reformat known as the finished work of the Cross. You do nothing that Adam did (old software-work) and live in what Jesus completed (new software-rest). Sounds pretty simple? Believe it, it is! The voice of the old software (has a hiss in it) will fight you to the end unless you press ‘yes’.
There is much talk about ‘Radical Grace’ or ‘Hyper-Grace’ in the days we live in. Really, the two terms are complimentary to a love that is beyond our ability to understand and very much within our ability to receive. The reformat process eliminates the confusion over this love, which is the very nature of God Himself. All of the thinking of man concerning God’s love for us is finite. It lacks words and expression to even begin to convey the depth, height and length of how he feels about us. I would much rather ‘error’ on the side of His Amazing Grace than to live ‘correctly’ hoping to earn it someday. If you choose to believe that life is about what you do and not what He has done, then I hope you are happy with the old software. Remember that it is out dated and subject to every virus and debilitating ‘bug’ out there. Fortunately, we cannot have both. You reformat or stay the same.
This question arises in a person’s heart. “How is it that you think you have ‘arrived’ and I have not!” Jesus leveled the playing field. It’s not a competition or reward for our labor. As Paul said ‘count it all lost’. There is nothing that we have done or haven’t done in the sweat of Adam’s brow that isn’t lost in the reformat that Paul was speaking of. The gain is clarity, rest, peace, joy and that is just the beginning! If you haven’t and are ready, press ‘yes’ then you will see a life that is truly ‘Amazing’!
How do you apply your faith to sin? Nearly all my life (as far back as I can remember), I had believed the doctrine of repentance as this. ‘Lord forgive me for my failure, cleanse me from my unrighteousness and give me power not to do it again. I commit to doing better before you’. Then gradually I would begin to feel accepted and would enjoy the Lord again thinking he was pleased with me.
Think about it. How different is this than offering a goat or lamb for sacrifice? Well minus the mess anyway.
Another religious myth. I have never gotten ‘better’ or acquired more ‘power’ to do right. Even when I gained a victory, very soon in time, I would suffer a defeat. You find yourself in a quandary because the outside looks polished but the inside is in trouble. Jesus told the Pharisees to ‘wash first the inside of the cup’. I had been scrubbing for decades and then I learned something that literally set me free.
How to apply your faith to sin. First of all, faith is not something you do. It’s something that has been done that you trust in. Upon the cross of Calvary Jesus paid for the entire world’s sin, not just yours. Before you sinned the first time. Before you were conceived. What does this mean? It means the bill is paid and no further payment is necessary. Believing is the only effort needed to possess it. Not weeping or gnashing of teeth. Not pledges or good deeds. Not hard work or self denial. Just believe.
Here is how it sounds to apply your faith to sin. ‘Jesus, thank you that you paid for every sin and set me free from it’s power over 2000 years ago. I will not be condemned or allow guilt to find a place in my heart. The power I have over it, is to ignore it. I am righteous and holy because it is a free gift to me’. When is this prayer effective? Before you sin, while you sin and after you sin. To be God conscious is to be aware always of what he is aware of. And what is God aware of always? His love for you, not your sin. To be sin conscious is to be aware of failure, wrong doing, evil blah blah blah. It is in an awareness of Him that we find the freedom to live a wonderful abundant life. Just think if Adam would have ran to God with his problem instead of hiding from Him.
What is God’s will?
If you see God thru the mythological veil of religion, then you will never know what His will is. He becomes like Zeus or Hades. One day He is pleased and the next He is ready to judge. He kills some and cures some. Just maybe the luck of the gods may fall on you and you will survive!
Think about how we feel when something not good happens to us or even when something good happens to someone else. Zeus I tell ya. Now if you look at the design of a family, you see a different set of values. As a father, I want only good things for my children. I never want them to hurt, be sick or suffer any loss (for those who do, then there are places of confinement built just for them!) I would never take things away from them to teach them value or inflict them to build their character. That is several steps below the line of stupid. Yet people apply that every day to God and His connection to humanity.
God so loved the world….. and still does. He is not the author of sickness, poverty or death but the cure for it. It is His will that you prosper, be in health and live a long life, period. Now when we encounter life challenges, the pat answer comes immediately. ‘It must be His will’. When we encounter the fork in the road, the pat question arrives at the same speed. ‘What is your will Lord?’ Both this answer and question say the same thing; we don’t know. A house built on the sand is a life constructed on an infinitesimal number of micro decisions and an incomplete self value. However, a house built on a big rock is constructed on one thing. Point being this; the rock is the knowledge of how God really feels about you.
The next time you hear of ‘extravagant Grace or hyper Grace’ or anything that makes the gospel message look ‘too good to be true’, take the time to listen. The greatest moment in your life is not what you can do, but learning what He did for you!
A frantic woman called 911 with an emergency and the operator said ‘we would love to help but we haven’t received enough calls from you yet. Please get your neighbors to call and when you have a substantial request base we will act on it.’ Sounds absurd doesn’t it. Yet Christians apply this silly notion to God every time there is a need. Could it be that we were taught wrong? Does God not love us more than the 911 system? They come on the first call. Just dial it and don’t say anything and you will have a yard full of lights in moments. Religion has given us requirements and burdens that God has never required! Before you take a breath to pray, he is waiting to hear you. What love he has for us!