He Gave Them Glory

“God causes everything to work together  for the good of those who love God” Romans 8:28

They were a tight-knit group of Christians who met for prayer weekly. In the beginning, they were uncertain about how to pray and what to say. But as time progressed, they became more confident, more certain of how and what to say. It seemed powerful and life-changing. There was, however, one problem, a serious one. This steadfast group had fallen in love with their ability to pray—it was as though they, through their powerful-sounding words, were causing things to happen or not happen.  They had forgotten about God’s Holy Spirit who intercedes for us as we pray. 

Additionally, they had forgotten about Romans 8 which says, in part, that all things work together for good for all believers. They were constantly praying that God would take away all problems and obstacles from people, as though God’s intention was for all believers to have a smooth-sailing life, coupled with a bit of prosperity. Good jobs, ample money and smooth-sounding prayers had jaded them to reshape God into a human; a powerful and generous one, but a human none-the-less. 

This went on for several years until one night, a newcomer quite innocently asked if she could read a section of Scripture that God had put on her heart. She read as follows: 

   Romans 8:28-39  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. 29 For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them His glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since He did not spare even his own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with Himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 As the Scriptures say, “For Your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” (Psalm 44:22) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Her reading brought tears of repentance and renewed joy to all in attendance. God took a simple request, blended with His living Word to remind this group of believers of their first love. 

   Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”  

   Psalms 12:6 “And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace. . .purified seven times.” 

Engrave these words of God on your mind. Call upon them during times of fear, depression, anxiety, frustration, doubt and failure. God’s words never fail or lose their power. And remember that the Bible does not teach that God promises His followers smooth-sailing in this world. Quite the contrary, He assures we shall have conflict, suffering and problems. The equipment provided to navigate these troublesome waters is based on our faith and trust in God’s Son through His death and resurrection. Nothing escapes God. He is always with us and will never leave us. Powerful-sounding prayers are not really that. Simple, heart-felt prayers are actually more powerful. 

I Hope I Make It

 “The twelve gates were twelve pearls” ~Revelation 21:21

Two friends were talking over lunch when one said, “I just hope I make it through those Pearly Gates!”

“What do you mean?” said his friend.

“Just what I said. I mean I give a tithe in church, well, most of the time. I drive a food truck for meals on wheels. I help my older neighbor keep up his landscaping and I help support a few missionaries through our church. I’m sure that must count to my credit on that final day.”

“I am sure that God delights in your sacrificial giving, Charlie. And those who receive the fruit of your labors are certainly blessed. But what has that got to do with the Pearly Gates of the New Jerusalem?”

“Well, I don’t want to be turned away on that final day. I couldn’t think of anything worse, Bill.”

“So, you think that God keeps a tally for every person who’s ever lived and if their works don’t measure up, they might be turned away at the Pearly Gates?”

Charlie blushed at Bill’s description and felt confused when he heard it described in this way. “I’ve got to admit that when I hear your description, I’m not sure but I am concerned about not getting in. I mean a guy can only do so much and I’m sure God’s requirements are pretty high.”

“The amount of good deeds you and your family accomplish is phenomenal, Charlie, but that has nothing to do with gaining entrance through the Pearly Gates.”

What are you talking about. I’ve heard that said most of my life. How could I be wrong?”

“Let’s back up a bit. First off, how do we know we’re going to spend eternity with God?”

“By believing in Christ as our Savior!”

“Exactly. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). And then, a few verses later it says, “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

“I get that, of course but we still have to do good works,” said Charlie

“Good works should be a natural outcropping of your new life in Christ, Charlie, not an obligation that assures you of your salvation. Our salvation which brings total forgiveness of sins was given to us freely, not based on our good reputation.”

“Look at Ephesians 2:8-10, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

“There it is, man. We have to do the good things he planned long ago. Clearly if we don’t, no pearly gate entrance,” said Charlie.

“Really? So you think Jesus suffered horribly and died on that cross so we could all get busy and work out heads off to prove how much we love Him, sort of earning our salvation? Charlie, I understand how easy it is to get confused and think we must do works to keep our salvation and on that final day present ourselves at a pearly gate, hoping we did enough to get inside. But it isn’t true. Think about the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42-43). He said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And the Lord said, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” He did not say, I’d like to bring you into paradise but you’ve only done bad works and now it’s too late.”

“What about the woman caught in adultery? After her accusers left in shame, “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ~John 8:10-11

“Charlie, there is no moment of truth where we are presented to an angel or Peter, as some of the stories indicate, at one of the pearly gates, asking if we qualify to enter. That is a myth which brings fear and confusion. So who do you think made it up? Obviously not God. Our eternal destination is settled once, for all time, when we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receive forgiveness of all sins!

“Well, what about the pearly gate. I know it is mentioned in the Bible.”

“Indeed. Chapter 21 of Revelation describes The New Jerusalem as “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. Its walls will be 216 feet thick and its length and width and height will be 1,400 miles!

“There will be twelve gates made of pearls— each gate from a single pearl! Its gates will never be closed…Nothing evil will be allowed to enter…but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!”

Since we believe the blood of the Lamb was shed to save our souls, our names are inscribed in that special Book.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 ~For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.