Salvation

Safe Under His Wings...

Today's Devotional Thought: Safe Under His Wings 

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4)

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up the mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of the tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of the pending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, knowing instinctively that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

Now listen as Jesus laments over the city of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37.  He says, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." 

As Jesus makes this statement he has resolutely fixed his path toward the cross of Calvary (Luke 13:32-35). As he considered his purpose he aches to bring in the whole house of Israel under the protection of his blood; he desires to bring them under the safety of his wings. As Jesus makes this heart-felt cry over Jerusalem he stands upon the Mount of Olives which is a hill facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of the Kidron valley. 

From that location Jesus would be able to look over the temple wall. Inside the temple animal sacrifices were being done, the blood being spilt upon the alter. This is because, as the Hebrew writer tells us, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). But the Hebrew writer goes on to say in 10:4, "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." So, Peter will tell us that the One whose blood could take away sins was standing upon that mount. He says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Yet it was probably not His blood Jesus was thinking of when he makes his lament over Jerusalem. In the very next chapter, chapter 24, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2, "Do you see all these things?" he asked."Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."). 

In AD 70 that prophecy would be fulfilled. From the same spot that Jesus stood upon and cried over the city the future Roman Emperor Titus would stand as the Roman army lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. When they took the city it is said that the streets ran red with the blood of the people. The temple was destroyed. The stones themselves being thrown down to get the gold embossed in them and not one stone stood upon another. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 was to be a foreshadowing of Jesus future return and the final judgement to come.

Just as Jerusalem could have been saved if they had run under the protection of Jesus wings so we too have the same opportunity to take refuge under those wings and be saved and protected from the coming judgement. Now is the time for the chicks to scurry under His wings. Now is the time to find safety in Jesus. Have you sought his protection? The fire approaches. The danger is real. Let us hide ourselves under His wings. "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4)

Prayer: Father, You alone can cover us and protect us from the coming judgement. We seek refuge under the protective wings of Jesus washed white in His blood. Thank you for His safety, grace and blood spilt for us. He died and took our penalty upon Himself that we may be saved. In His great and powerful name we pray our gratitude. In Jesus, amen.

BELIEVE: week three: SALVATION

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

Vincent Ardolino watched the Twin Towers explode from his little tugboat in the New York Harbor on 9/11. Minutes later, as the towers fell, people swarmed the pier, desperate to vacate the island. Roads, subways, trains, bridges--everything was shut down. The only escape from Manhattan Island? The water. Many of them leaped in, fearing for their lives.

Vincent urgently turned the prow of his boat toward the island as his wife exclaimed, “What if there’s another attack?!” His response was, “If I only rescue one person, that’s one less person who will suffer and die.”

Joined by every boat on the water, Vincent became involved with the greatest sea evacuation since World War II, when 339,000 soldiers were rescued over the span of 9 days in Dunkirk. On 9/11 500,000 civilians were rescued in less than 9 hours through the grace gift of these captains. Each person jumping into a boat accepted the gracious gift of a rescue, putting their faith in the boat and in its captain.

"I believe a person comes into a right relationship with God by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ."

The Imposter Syndrome

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Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

In 1978, two American psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, observed what they called "the impostor syndrome." They described it as a feeling of "phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable, or creative despite evidence of high achievement." While these people "are highly motivated to achieve," they also "live in fear of being 'found out' or exposed as frauds."

If it sounds familiar, you aren't alone. The amazing American author and poet Maya Angelou suffered from the Imposter Syndrome. She shared that, "I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out.'" Despite winning three Grammys and being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award, this huge talent still questioned her success. Marketing expert Seth Godin, even after publishing a dozen best sellers, confessed in his book The Icarus Deception that he still feels like a fraud. [Carl Richards, "Learning to Deal with the Imposter Syndrome," The New York Times (10-26-15)]

As a Pastor I've discovered, through getting to know people, that there is a spiritual form of the "Imposter Syndrome." I find it in those whose lives are bearing the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) yet are doubting their salvation. Maybe not all the time. Maybe just when they mess up, make a mistake, sin. Instantly they wonder, "If I died right now would I go to heaven?" They get the sense, even after they repent, "If people knew, they'd think I was an imposter, a hypocrite," and they wonder if they just may be. Do you know anyone like this? Do you suffer from the Imposter Syndrome?

It's been my experience that the Imposter Syndrome is often born from an "and" mentality of salvation. We know salvation is a free gift given through Jesus and nothing we do can earn it. Yet, there are moments when we can fail, fall short, and question our salvation. Why?

Because somehow we have made salvation an "and" proposition. It's faith in Jesus...and. This is what Paul is warning against in Galatians 5. There were some teachers who were teaching that it was faith in Christ and circumcision. Paul calls this type of thinking a "yoke of slavery."

He says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." The idea that salvation is faith in Christ and my good deeds (or personal righteousness) will always leave us under a yoke and wondering if we're imposters. The freedom we have in Christ is this: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." (Romams 8:1).

 Prayer: Holy Father, we know we are sinners. We need Your forgiveness. Help us to realize that Your grace is big enough and strong enough to hold us even when we fail. We thank You for the grace You give through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whom we pray, amen.

"I've wasted it!"

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Today's thought:

James 4:14, "...What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

In his book Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper recounts a story his father often told in his days as a fiery Baptist evangelist. It is the story of a man who came to saving faith in Jesus Christ near the end of his earthly existence. Piper writes:

"The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone's amazement he came and took my father's hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face, "I've wasted it! I've wasted it!"

By the grace of God, even a life that is almost totally wasted can still be redeemed. As the Scottish theologian Thomas Boston once said, our present existence is only "a short preface to a long eternity." If that is true, then the man's life was not wasted after all; he was only just beginning an eternal life of endless praise. But why wait even a moment longer before starting to serve Jesus? Ephesiams 5:15-16, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." You have only one life to live. Don't waste it by living for yourself when you can use it instead for the glory of God.

[Read John Piper's full book, Don't Waste Your Life, free online at, http://cdn.desiringgod.org/pdf/books_dwyl/dwyl_full.pdf]

Prayer: Father, we thank you that a life lived for You is never wasted. You redeem us and our lives from being wasted by Your grace and that grace can redeem a whole life that might have been wasted. What amazing grace that calls us into purpose, meaning and eternal existence. We praise Your name for heaven rains grace upon Your children. Let it rain today, LORD. We love you because You first loved us. In Jesus, amen.

Top 5 of Daily Thoughts #1

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"Under His Wings" 

 "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4)

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up the mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of the tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of the pending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, knowing instinctively that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had singed her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

Now listen as Jesus laments over the city of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37.  He says, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing." As Jesus makes this statement he has resolutely fixed his path toward the cross of Calvary (Luke 13:32-35). As he considered his purpose he aches to bring in the whole house of Israel under the protection of his blood; he desires to bring them under the safety of his wings. As Jesus makes this heart-felt cry over Jerusalem he stands upon the Mount of Olives which is a hill facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of the Kidron valley. From that location Jesus would be able to look over the temple wall. Inside the temple animal sacrifices were being done, the blood being spilt upon the alter. This is because, as the Hebrew writer tells us, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). But the Hebrew writer goes on to say in 10:4, "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." So, Peter will tell us that the One whose blood could take away sins was standing upon that mount. He says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Yet it was probably not His blood Jesus was thinking of when he makes his lament over Jerusalem. In the very next chapter, chapter 24, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2, "Do you see all these things?" he asked."Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."). In AD 70 that prophecy would be fulfilled. From the same spot that Jesus stood upon and cried over the city the future Roman Emperor Titus would stand as the Roman army lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. When they took the city it is said that the streets ran red with the blood of the people. The temple was destroyed. The stones themselves being thrown down to get the gold embossed in them and not one stone stood upon another. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 was to be a foreshadowing of Jesus future return and the final judgement to come.

Just as Jerusalem could have been saved if they had run under the protection of Jesus wings so we too have the same opportunity to take refuge under those wings and be saved and protected from the coming judgement. Now is the time for the chicks to scurry under His wings. Now is the time to find safety in Jesus. Have you sought his protection? The fire approaches. The danger is real. Let us hide ourselves under His wings. "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4)

Prayer: Father, You alone can cover us and protect us from the coming judgement. We seek refuge under the protective wings of Jesus washed white in His blood. Thank you for His safety, grace and blood spilt for us. He died and took our penalty upon Himself that we may be saved. In His great and powerful name we pray our gratitude. In Jesus, amen.

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