Tag Archives: Gift

Lay down my life – am I ready?

firefighterPray

I have read several posts from fellow firefighters over the last couple months about “laying down my life” and “being willing to give it all” for the sake of someone else.  This is a popular theme among first responders.  While it’s not in the fine print, it’s an underlying thought that we all know is there.  The more I read these memes and posts, the more God has laid a burden on my heart to share the truth that should be paramount in that decision to “lay it all down”.  Are we ready?  I’m not asking if we are ready to give our life as in, “will I consciously choose my brother, sister’s or patient’s well-being over mine?”  Honestly, no one knows that answer until it is asked of them.  But the question I am asking is – Are you ready for what happens after you make that choice?

There are no guarantees in life.  There is no way to know where we are on God’s timetable.  As an ordinary human being the Bible paints an urgent picture to be “right with God”.  To make a decision, while we still can, for Jesus Christ.  James 4:13-15 paints a solid picture about the brevity of life and the need to live on purpose.  Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say,”If it is the Lords’ will, we will live and do this or that.”  It doesn’t get much clearer than that.  We don’t know.  Life is short.  It really is.  While we can’t live just for today or tomorrow, we certainly can’t put off decisions and actions thinking there will be time later.

My post, today, is directed at those that I serve with in first responder world.  It’s open for anyone and everyone, but those men and women are on my heart today.  I challenge you this – are you ready for what happens after you so bravely lay down your life?  Have you made a decision to trust Jesus with your eternal life?  If you haven’t made the choice, or if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I challenge you today to read on.

We are not perfect.  God is.  We do not measure up to His standard – which is perfection.  We can’t be with Him because we are imperfect sinners.  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).  This is hard to digest, because we can’t imagine in our mind that laying down are life wouldn’t be enough.  Can’t we become righteous for paying the ultimate sacrifice?  According to God’s word, we can’t save enough people, we can’t give enough, we can’t do anything enough to become acceptable to God.

Where did sin come from?  Why was I born this way?  Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.  We are descendants of the first created being – Adam.  He sinned, and His perfection ended.  From that moment it was in his DNA and passed on to each generation.  The result of that sin is simple – death.  Adam and Eve were created to live forever, but God wants us to choose Him, so he gave them a choice.  Their choice had an outcome.  They chose to disobey God’s direction, and live for themselves, and their outcome was life that ultimately ends in death.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23).  Don’t miss the last part.  God didn’t create us to kill us.  He created us to be with Him.  That was the original design and it was perfect.  God doesn’t throw away His design, so He made a way.  That gift was His way that we can be together when our time here is up.

God shows us His never-ending mercy and love by giving the ultimate gift – Jesus Christ.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Christ came to this world for one purpose: to save us.  As a first responder, maybe you can relate in some way to that.  Maybe that is exactly why you chose to serve – to save.

God demonstrated his love by giving us Jesus who would live the life we couldn’t and die the death we deserved to satisfy the penalty that is rightly ours.  To show that his payment was sufficient, God raised Jesus up, giving him victory over death.  He put one requirement out there to get this free gift – believe.  That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)  God requires that we put our trust in what Christ did as the payment necessary for our sin.  In accepting that He is the payment, we also must believe that God accepted that payment on our behalf.

Worried about your past?  Don’t be. This gift has no prerequisites.  There is nothing we can do other than believe.  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13).  It’s out there for everyone.  We just have to accept it.

Remember, we don’t know when God will call our name and our life will be over – here.  We, as first responders, have signed up to help others at all costs, even death.  While you may, so bravely, hold that commitment in your heart, I beg you to do it with the assurance that you have trusted Christ as your savior.

Take a breath and…Jump

jump

I came across a great video clip today of popular tv show host – Steve Harvey as he gave an impromptu motivational speech to his audience before an episode taping.  The clip was titled Jump.  Steve does a great job of laying out the fact that no one that is great got there without being willing to take a leap of faith.  Maybe it was faith that their business idea would be a success.  Maybe it was faith that if they made a large investment it would pay off.  Maybe it was faith that if they got the courage to ask the girl out, she would say yes.

He used an illustration of walking to a cliff and looking out to see other people soaring by – flying.  They are going from one success to another, and enjoying life’s moments all because they weren’t afraid to make the initial jump.  About half way into the clip, Steve made reference to the word of God and to a very well known principal – gifts.  Steve shared with the audience, in that moment, that we are all gifted when we are created.  (Props to Steve for using his position on that stage to share that we are created beings, with a father in Heaven that loves us).  

“You can not simply exist in this life”

God doesn’t create anyone without gifting them, he would go on to say.  Now, he didn’t dive into spiritual gifts, but instead insisted that we all have a purpose.  A talent, or ability that makes us unique and allows us to have success or fulfillment in this life.  But that gift was like the parachute on your back, as you stand on the edge of the cliff.  If you don’t jump, you can’t open your chute, and if you don’t open it, your gift stays tucked away on your back and is never used for God’s intended purpose.

So what are gifts that our Heavenly father gives us?  2 Corinthians 9:8 says, God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work.”  Grace is never-ending from our Father.  He freely gives it to us, as much as we need.  God only requires that we are ready to receive that grace by having faith, humility and sincere love.  The most important gift is the gift of salvation.  That grace which is extended to each of us as God’s creation ultimately leads us to salvation through Jesus Christ.  In that salvation we have a savior that will save us from everything we face.  This doesn’t mean we won’t face things, but he’ll bring us through it and never leave us to  handle it on our own.  The greatest gift is an eternal relationship with the one that created us.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us that he is able to save to the uttermost those that come to God through him.  There is no one that is “incapable of being saved” and that Nothing can withstand or thwart His prayers for those who walk in covenant with him.  Nothing beats Jesus.

So what do we have to do to receive these gifts, to really understand our purpose to realize our gifts, to be fulfilled in this life?  Jump.  Jump when God  knocks on your heart’s door and asks to come in and dwell with you forever.  Jump when God challenges you to move in a certain way, or to be used according to his purpose. Jump when you are standing on the edge of that cliff and trust that God will open your parachute and reveal His glory in your life.

Father, today I thank you that you gave me the courage to jump and I thank you that you are the wind that fills my parachute and that you continue to help me open that up and continue to love me and extend your precious grace to me when I fail.  Help me to always trust you and jump when you show me the opportunity.  In Christ I pray, Amen.

Powerball Odds

lotteryOdds

1.5 billion dollars.  That was the estimated jackpot for last night’s drawing.  How much is a billion?  Here are some facts:

  • 1 billion dollar signs, printed side by side, 1000 per page, front and back would fill up a 500,000 page book!
  • 1 billion seconds is 31 years
  • If I sat down to count from 1 to 1 billion (by one’s) I would be counting for nearly 95 years.
  • About 1 billion minutes ago, the Roman empire was flourishing (1 billion minutes – 1900 years

A billion is a lot.  Naturally, the hype was elevated at the thought, the mere chance of winning that prize.  While most people get in on the hype with the joyful attitude of you never know, fully not expecting to win the prize, planning to go about life normally tomorrow morning, there are equally as many people who literally hinged their entire life on that possibility.  I would venture to say that there were folks who were putting all they had (heart and soul) into those odds as the way to fulfill their life, make it worth something, ease their pain, etc.  I admit, I found myself thinking about the possibilities with that much wealth.   What I could do for others, and how I could help this effort or that one.  Great ambitions aren’t they?  I wonder how many other folks think they would do nothing but noble and good with their new fortune?  I spent time in prayer this morning asking God to forgive me for letting my mind run wild with the thoughts of greed.  I am saved by his grace and promised eternal life with him in heaven one day, what more could I possibly need in this life?

I started to think about that fact that I am provided for and assured that he’ll never forget me.  I might face hardships and I may have to deal with earthly consequences to my choices, but in the big picture, I will always have what I need.  I compared that thought with the thought that there are those out there that felt better about the odds of winning the lottery and that the wealth would be what they needed to fulfill their life and have purpose than they do about submitting their life to Jesus Christ and putting their faith in his finished work on the cross.  The odds of winning the powerball jackpot are 1 in 292 million.  The odds of Jesus Christ saving a repenting sinner…1 in 1.  Every time.  Will you instantly be happy?  Maybe not by the world’s standard, but I guarantee (and so does his word) an immediate peace and a feeling of belonging and purpose.  I can still remember the Sunday, many years ago, that I gave my life to Christ.  I went down on my knee lost and destined to spend eternity in pain and torment, forever separated from God.  I came up from that floor, born again and with purpose.  My problems were still there.  My life was still in disarray, but I wasn’t alone.  I had purpose.  I had a knowledge and a peace that God would walk with me through whatever I was dealing with and that I would come out on the other side.  I was filled up with his love and grace and in that moment, I didn’t need anything else.  I found the missing piece to what made me whole.  That’s what Jesus is…that missing piece that we are all searching for.  He is also the true treasure and jackpot.  All the money in the world, won’t fill us up or fill that need that only a life in Christ can fill.  We’ll always want or need more.  We’ll always be searching for how to make it stretch just a little bit farther.  Christ fills us up instantly, to the point of running over, an ever-flowing fountain that never goes dry.

I started a study in the book of Romans today and the first verse used to introduce a chapter is familiar, but it fit right in to what I was thinking about today.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:33 (ESV).  Break that down and think about it today…the wages of sin, the cost of sin is death.  Not 1.5 billion dollars, not all the money in the world. The cost is greater than anything we can attain.  It is death.  But the free gift, not just a gift we have to earn, but the free gift from God is eternal life, no death, no separation, but an eternity to live.  How do we get it?  Is it for sale?  Absolutely not.  You can’t buy your gift, it isn’t a gift if you pay for it.  You get it by betting on those 1 in 1 odds.

Lord, today I thank you for the eternal gift of God, my salvation through you and only your finished work on the cross.  Thank you for not requiring anything of me, or holding me accountable to what I owe.  Thank you for making it free and willing giving it to anyone, regardless of whether we deserve it or not.  Thank you for the gift of your word so that I can have hope in the truth.  I pray you would keep my mind focused on and help me to always rejoice and trust in what you provide.  In your name I pray – Amen