I am Saved

By Grace Alone

“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ ~Luke 18:13, NASB

When I was younger, I insisted on doing everything myself. That way I could do it the way I wanted, and at the end of whatever I was doing, I could say, “I did it myself!”

A little time, little age, four kids, and a weak back have diminished quite a bit of that independent drive. There are things that I simply can’t do. Moving large rocks, for example. Opening stuck jars. Making big decisions. I can’t do these things on my own—some of them I can’t do at all.

At some point in our lives, I think, we all have to come to terms with our weaknesses. Weaknesses that seem to increase as time ticks by. Spiritually, however, we have to come to terms with our total inadequacy. Anything more than a completely humble heart who throws himself on the mercy of God is pride.

Pride doesn’t work for salvation. If I come to God with a list of virtues and a ready argument for my qualifications for His kingdom, I will be disqualified. He doesn’t want my resume.

Jesus relayed the story in our verse for today as an illustration, and He followed this tax-collector’s humbled prayer with this commentary: “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I am not qualified for the Kingdom by my own merit. My resume is stained and unworthy. Yet I am saved. Saved by grace alone.

I am not my own

Belonging to Jesus

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. ~ Gal 5:19-26, NASB

wedding ringsWhen I got married I changed my name. I changed my address, my college, my future plans. I change my allegiance. I was no longer a single woman, serving my own desires, looking out for my agenda. I declared myself his. I belong to my husband.

Sometimes we look at Jesus like He’s the genie in the lamp. I’ll call you when I need you, but otherwise, I’m doing my thing. Living on my own terms.

But a disciple belongs to Jesus. They have made a declaration, to God, and to the world, “I am His.” And what does that mean?

I belong to Jesus, I am no longer pledged to sin.
I belong to Jesus, I have laid aside selfish ambition.
I belong to Jesus, I am committed to His joy.
I belong to Jesus, I claim His household as mine.
I belong to Jesus, I am not my own.

Life was different after marriage, but fifteen years down the road, I don’t have any regrets when it comes to that pledge.

Life is different when we belong to Jesus, but in an eternity of life with Him, there won’t be a single regret.

I am Precious

Mercy and Compassion

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea. ~Micah 7:18-19, NASB

Mercy and compassion. Two of the most beautiful words penned.

When I work with the kids in Awana, I have a practice of beginning with the bad news: we’re filthy in our hearts. We look together at Jeremiah 17:9 — the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it. Often times these precious ten and eleven year olds can’t seem to grasp the idea that all of us are hopelessly sinful. Dirty.

But me? The more I see of myself, the more I struggle with the darkness of sin in my heart, the more I grasp that I need cleaned. I desperately  need a savior. Here’s what I have a hard time grasping: because He delights in mercy He will again have compassion on us and remove our iniquities.

That kind of compassion honestly blows me away.

My son was recently sick. Puked all over himself and the carpet. Ew. I mean yuck. No one wants to touch that kind of mess. But I’m his mommy, and I love my baby boy. So, I put him in the bath, washed his smelly little body, got him some water and a fresh pair of pjs, and then put him back to bed. And then got to work on the carpet. Scrubbed it until the mess and the smell was gone.

I didn’t tell him to get to cleaning. I didn’t even expect him to help. Compassion washed over me as I tucked my sick boy into his bed. It stayed in my gut even as I set myself to the task of puke evacuation.

Nothing shows love quite like the willingness to clean up someone else’s nasty mess.

I often wonder what Jesus is thinking, feeling, when he cleans my putrid heart. This again? When will she ever learn? Or, This is the last time. I’m not doing this again.

No. Because He delights in mercy, and lavishes His compassion upon me.