Thursday, November 3, 2016

"But, God!"

Last night, after a delicious meal, around a campfire on a beautiful evening, I asked the youth, “Tell of a time when you came very close to death.” There followed many stories; childhood illnesses, accidents, allergic reactions, near misses, and other scary moments. We were thankful for being alive!

Ephesians 2:1-3 emphasizes how we “used to live” in transgressions and sins according to the cravings of our flesh (sinful nature). We named specific “transgressions and sins.”  We discussed that when we continue to live in that way, (sometimes unconsciously, sometimes willfully) it desensitizes us to that little “Jiminy Cricket” voice of conscious in our brain, and we continue living without hope under the influence of evil present in this world, v 2.

But, God…
Then we read the amazing hope in verses 4-5! 
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Grace! Described by one young person as “Undeserved forgiveness.” Absolutely correct! The word grace shouts out from verses 4-10! In God’s love and mercy, which contrasts the wrath that we deserved, he decided to rescue his wayward children!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
The Holy Spirit recreates our inner being—we “used to be dead” but God “made us alive with Christ.”

Resurrection! Recreation! Restoration!

I then challenged everyone to think about who they have in their lives who holds them accountable for staying on track; choosing to continue living as followers of Jesus and not slipping back into behaviors that are based on the sinful nature, not the God-nature grace-fully given to us. Who speaks truth into your life? And to whom can you speak truth, helping another person follow Jesus faithfully?

We need each other. We need to speak grace-filled words of accountability and hope to each other. Life is too hard to go it alone. We need to pray for each other, and pray for our church and our pastors.  

And we did just that, around a campfire on a beautiful evening.
God loves you! I love you!

Grace and peace.

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