Saved for Works, Not by Works

There are times that I think: I plow the field, plant the seed, and others gather the grain; I tend the vineyard and others press the grapes; and I do all the work and others enjoy the riches.  I sit dazed and confused; however, I’m not listening to Led Zeppelin.  I feel like the elder son without a fattened calf, working in the field while my brother is having a party with his friends.  I’m busy doing the Lord’s work. Work, work, work.

The religious Jews of Jesus' day had more than just the Law of Moses to keep; they also had centuries of customs, traditions, and rabbinical commandments to observe (Mark 7:3-4).  The only religion they knew was one of works, and they wondered what new works might be required by the teachings of Jesus.  Imagine, then, their surprise at the Lord's wonderfully simple reply: "This is the work of God; that you believe on him whom he has sent" (John 6:29).

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Be a Salty Saint

Our Presbytery is currently mulling the Amendments from last summer’s General Assembly.  Please give some thought to the following… Pass the Salt – Adrian Rogers, ‘Life Worth Finding’.  “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”  Matthew 5:13

Christians are the salt of the earth, and Christ calls us to live salty lives so that we can make a difference in the world.  However, some Christians are like salt that’s lost its savor: good for nothing but to be thrown out and walked on.

Salt is necessary for life.  Table salt is actually sodium-chloride, which is often used in chemistry classes.  You can get hydrogen by dropping sodium into water, and you can get poisonous gas from chloride.  These are two dangerous elements by themselves, but God, in His chemistry, has put them together to make something necessary for life.  In the same way, God took the deadly part of us and through the chemistry of the cross, made something new and alive.  Like salt, we used to be something deadly, but now we’re to be the salt of the earth!

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Get Outta' the Boat!

Charles Swindoll, in his book "Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back," tells a story about a farmer who wanted to impress his hunting buddies, so he went out and bought the smartest, most expensive hunting dog he could find.  He trained this dog to do things no other dog on earth could do---impossible feats that would surely amaze anyone.  Then he invited his neighbors to go duck hunting with him.  After a long patient wait in the boat a group of ducks flew over and the hunters were able to shoot a few of them down.  Several ducks fell into the water.  The farmer looked at the dog and said, "Go get 'em!"  The dog leaped out of the boat, walked on the water, picked up a duck, and returned to the boat.  As soon as he dropped the duck in the boat he trotted off across the water again, grabbed another duck, and brought it back to the boat.  The owner kind of swelled up with pride as his dog walked across the water and retrieved each of the birds one by one.  Kind of smugly, he looked at his buddies and asked, "Do you notice anything unusual about my dog?"  One of them sat back, rubbed his chin, thought about it for a little while, and finally said, "Yeah, come to think of it, I do!  That stupid dog doesn't know how to swim does he?"

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Hey Jude, You Didn't Say Much but You Said It Well

I had been planning to write something witty, something fresh, however, God tells me His Word is sufficient.  So let's look at Jude and think about the message(s) coming from PCUSA.

"I must write urging you to stoutly defend the truth which God gave His people to keep without change.  I say this because some godless teachers have wormed their way in among you saying that after we become Christians we can do just as we like without fear of God's punishment.  These false teachers carelessly go right on living their evil, immoral lives, degrading their bodies and laughing at those in authority over them.  All they leave behind them is shame and disgrace, they wander around looking as bright as stars, but ahead of them is the everlasting gloom and darkness that God has prepared for them.  These men are constant gripers, never satisfied, doing whatever evil they feel like, they are loud mouthed "show offs," and when they show respect for others, it is only to get something from them in return.

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Let's Leave Judgement to God

Paul writes: "Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do.  And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with, even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in faith.  Remember, they have their own history to deal with.  Treat them gently." ( Romans 14:1)

When we criticize our brother or sister we need to remember that we are all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God.  Forget about deciding what is right, or wrong, for each other; or putting a stumbling block in front of one who is coming to Jesus.  We have our hands full taking care of our own lives before God.  Let's cultivate our own relationships with God and not impose our prejudices on others.  We are each responsible for our personal relationship with our Lord Jesus, and we all have history.  Let us focus on God's grace and mercy, and be thankful that Jesus died for us so that we who believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Learning daily on the inside,

Pete

Friends and Heaven

A man and his dog were walking along a road.  The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.  He remembered dying, and that his faithful dog had been dead for many years.  He wondered where the road was leading them.  After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.  It looked like fine marble.  As he reached the wall, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch, and the street that led to the gate made from pure gold.  He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.  When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

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Promised Rest

Thank you for allowing me to be part of our church's ministry.  I have just finished my tenth year at Green River Correction Complex (GRCC) and am in my seventh at the Hopkins County Jail (HCJ).  Some days get very long, working for the school system during the day and ministering at night, and there are times when I don't feel like going.  However, every time I feel weary I'm energized by the Holy Spirit and the inmates' need to see Jesus' love in someone spending time with them. I'm truly blessed.

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