Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
When I was in college, I traveled a highway with a toll booth to get to campus each day. There was an alternate route to take but it was much farther. The only problem was that in order to use the toll booth, I had to remember to keep change in my car to pay the toll. In my haste as I am time challenged, there were days I was in a panic scrambling under the seats and checking every compartment to get through. I will admit over 30 years later with complete repentance that there were days I pretended to toss the right amount of change in the bucket and drove right through. I felt really guilty but at that point didn’t know what to do.
Around that time, I spent a summer in Africa as I was considering becoming a missionary. We would drive to different schools and prisons for the ministry and there better the condition of the road the more toll booths. There was no honor system but officers at each booth to collect the toll to pass. However, sitting behind the booth was an armed guard with a loaded assault weapon ready to shoot out the tires, if one was lucky, of those who didn’t pay the appropriate toll. Harsh. The prison system in Africa is very different than the one in America. Overcrowding is not a problem. The maximum sentence is three years. The return rate of repeat offenders is quite low. They believe in the death penalty and execute those who are menaces to society if street justice does not take care of the problem. Now this was more than 30 years ago, things may have changed. When a woman went to prison, her children went with her. The only time children were returned to family members would be in the event of untimely death or execution. It seems harsh. Where is social reform? Where is the care and concern for all humanity? The lack of consideration for each individual may seem harsh. God does not consider us as individuals when giving us grace. It is predestined and predetermined because God does not change.
To truly understand the Way of God and His Will, we must understand His Supremacy and Sovereignty. We live in a world shaped and fashioned by man in the form of society. Normalcy is by the current trend or majority rather than based on the truth. Our justice system is skewed because it based on humanity. Bad things happen to good people and nothing is done. Innocent people are herded through the system and sit in jail unfairly as precious moments of their life drift away. I am not calling for a political agenda. America is in deep trouble with God and the world. I cannot stomach another presidential debate. We have lost our way. But as a believer that does not have to impact or influence my life or its outcome. I have a better way. It is God’s Way. He has a plan. It includes a future hope. It requires exact change.
Numbers 23:19 (NLT) God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
Titus 1:1-2 (NLT) This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.
God is not a man. He does not lie. He is not human. He does not change His Mind. If He said it, He meant it. If He said don’t, He wasn’t joking or kidding. He cannot and will not accept sin ever in any form. There is no hierarchy of sin that makes one more foul than the next. Man made up doctrine and religion to suit their own purposes. While I believe in the beginning, it was with good intentions – tradition has taken over making Christians who sit on high horses and pride-made thrones. The truth of the matter is that at every give opportunity the altars of every church should be full with. Every person in every congregation should be face down on the floor asking God to forgive them and make them new. I include myself in the pious bunch who have stood up looking around waiting for someone else to go when in all honesty we all need Jesus more and more each day. Offense builds walls that forgiveness cannot overcome. Rather than freely given the love and grace given to us by Christ, it is hoarded for ourselves or those who make the appropriate changes. Blessing their hearts to their face – a knife is plunged in their back by secretly discussing sin and not praying for all sinners. My heart is overwhelmed today by a God who does not change. He does not lie or change His Mind. This works for me most days but today it convicts my heart.
John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Hebrews 13:8 (NLT) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
John 10:6-10 (NLT) Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
His Grace is sufficient for me. This does not mean that I can abuse God’s Grace or use it as I please. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. Most of us probably readily agree with this statement. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. When it comes to His Unfailing Love and Unending Grace, this can only be a bonus for those us who are weak and wandering. Jesus is the Gate for His Sheep. I think I get it. No, I really don’t.
Jesus is the Gate for His Sheep. His Purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life. The enemy and his thieves will attempt to carry sheep away with misguided truth, unconfessed sin, and lack of love into a pasture that may look like the one Jesus has given us but is a substitution. If you are not living a satisfied life – you may have gone through the wrong gate. The gate that is God’s Way is narrow. It does not let just anyone in, it is a heart matter. We must surrender our heart to Jesus Christ which means yielding our way, believing the Truth and living a new life. The life that Jesus commanded us to live is love. We make it about all these other things according to worldly standards but it doesn’t really matter how I look, what I wear, or what I do as long as I have given all of my heart to Jesus Christ. Like or not – God does not change and Jesus remains the same. They are constant in their insistence that love leads the way.
John 3:5-8 (NLT) Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 3:8-10 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.
Jesus told Nicodemus that to enter the Kingdom of God – you must be born again. Birth is new life. It is not easy but a long and difficult process that requires hard work, discomfort and pain along the way. When a baby is in the birthing process, sometimes complications arise. My second son had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times so tightly that it had to be cut before he was actually born to free him. It was a very tense moment as I was not in a hospital. The midwife told the nurse and I the plan – I was worried but determined to get help my baby live. The timing had to be impeccable. The contraction would come. At the peak, she would cut the cord and immediately would push and not stop until he was born. This may not sound like a big deal but any woman who has given birth knows it doesn’t always go as planned. Well, it worked and though he was battered and bruised – he was a healthy baby boy.
There is only one way for a baby to arrive naturally. If anything happens, there must be medical intervention. Only the Holy Spirit can birth spiritual life. Unlike the world and things in the natural which are given to change, new life in the Spirit can only come one way because God is Sovereign. If Jesus is the Giver of Grace (which He is) than His Way cannot change either. We cannot add to or take away from the Truth and God’s Grace is enough. Nothing I do, say or become will ever allow me to earn it.
We should live in the Glory of God every day. If the Glory of God is not emanating from our life, we are doing something wrong. I am doing something wrong. If the condition of my heart, not my life, but my heart is not glorious – I have no one to blame. God is perfect. His Way is, too. Maybe I need to exact change in my own life and line up with His Way to make into the right pasture.
I John 2:7-12 (NLT) Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
The Lord has lovingly and graciously placed three ladies in my life who I love with all my heart. They are all believers. If you met them they may seem life like ordinary people, but what I have discovered getting to know them is that they are extraordinary lovers. They love Jesus with their whole heart. Each one is in a different place in life but their love is the commonality that I see. They all serve in church but only one stands on the platform week after week. They are the iron who sharpen my iron. When I get aggravated, they smother me with grace. When I am stubborn, they wash me in the Word. When I get discouraged, they work to haul me back up and get me moving again. The circle is small. Their influence in my life is great. Church can become a society. Church people can become more harsh and critical than the world. The cuts of Christians may even draw blood a little quicker because we expect people to be like Jesus. Well, they are not. They are just people.
Today, my heart is heavy. There has been a strike to my foundation and blow to my flesh. The Lord is quickening me to overcome. To overcome means that I must allow the Holy Spirit to work on my hard heart even if no one else feels the need to submit, surrender and be transformed. I must give my life to the birth process to become a new creation. Somebody who loves like Jesus. One who avoids sin but runs to help sinners. Not to change, but to encounter God’s Love through me. Our time is drawing to an end. Jesus is coming soon. What will we have to show for it… We need exact change. Not religion or tradition but new hearts and new minds that only Jesus can produce in us. We must give Him what we have and let Him have His Way. We must have the exact change to make it through the narrow gate to His Kingdom today.
Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.