Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Of First Importance... The Gospel

Lord, may our hearts be refreshed and reminded this morning of the gospel -- the good news of Jesus.  By the power of the Spirit, I pray you would remind us of who we were, what you've done for us, and how because of Christ, we're able to relate to you on the basis of your grace and truth -- not our performance.  May we see you and treasure you in all of your glory.  Your Word says the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.  Help us believe that.  Help us believe that we are saved by JESUS, we are made new by JESUS, we are sanctified by JESUS.  All of our human efforts to be good enough for you, all our human efforts to find value apart from you are in vain.  You've ascribed to us all the value we could ever hope for in making us your own and adopting us into your family.  

Thank you that you offer us grace and peace not as a far-off, distant greeting but as an invitation to your dearly loved children.  You are our Shepherd.  I pray that we would allow ourselves to be your sheep, weak and needy in your presence.  Thank you that you are with us, that you've promised you will never leave us.  Thank you that your approval of us does not rest on what we do or have done but upon the finished work of Jesus.

a little snippet from
"A Gospel Primer" by Milton Vincent

"So this is my status and these are my flaws
Apart from Christ Jesus and His saving cause:
I carry sin's guilt and am gripped by sin's pow'r,
Held fast to its various lusts ev'ry hour,
Deserving of flames, both within and without,
And sliding t'ward Hell as I toss all about, 
Too reprobate even to play a small part
In clearing my record or changing my heart
To pacify wrath and be worthy of grace,
To make myself lovely and win God's embrace.
Completely condemned by God's Law in its whole,
I've nothing to offer to ransom my soul.
But wonder of wonders, so great to behold, 
My God chose to save me with method so bold.
What I could not render, God fully has done,
And doing, He rendered it all through His Son.
He sent Christ to die on the cross for my sin
To suffer my anguish my pardon to win.

Amazing it is, when I stop to regard,
That God would consent to an anguish so hard,
Surrend'ring His Son unto mayhem and death,
To torturous writhing 'til His final breath.
'Why does God forsake Me?' alone Jesus cried;
Yet God left Him hanging until He had died.
That Jesus was willing His life to lay down,
Be scourged and insulted and wear thorny crown
For one such as I who had spited God so,
Amazes and blesses and makes me to know
That greater a lover is no man than He,
Who laid down His life for a sinner like me.


Now when my time came and to Jesus I cried,
He gave me the pardon for which I had sighed,
He cleansed me completely from wrongs I had done,
Released me from bondage to sins, ev'ry one.
He shattered sin's chains which had held me before,
And thus made me free not to sin anymore.
A child of the Father He made me to be
And gave me the Spirit as His guarantee
That, being God's child, I will one day obtain 
A heavenly treasure that never will wane.
While in me, the Spirit gives power and love
And sweet premonitions of glory above.

In saving, God also did justify me,
Accounting me righteous by His own decree,
Declaring me guiltless of all of my sin,
And bringing His wrath against me to an end.
This wrath Christ appeased in full brunt on the Tree,
When, bearing my sin, He endured it for me.
So now God relates to me only with grace --
The former wrath banished without any trace!
And each day I'm made a bit more as I should,
His grace using all things to render me good.
Yes, even in trials God's grace abounds too
And does me the good He assigns it to do.

And when I am sinning, God's grace does abound,
Insuring my justified status is sound.
No wrath is awakened in God at my sin,
Because Christ appeased it -- to say so again.
God's heart pulses only with passionate grace,
Which jealously wants me back in His embrace.
God does not require even that I confess,
Before He desires His forgiveness to press.
Forgiveness has been in His heart all along;
And when I approach Him to make right my wrong,
He runs up to greet me and draws to me near,
Embracing and kissing and ready to clear.

God does see my sins and He grieves at them so,
For when I am sinning, His love I don't know.
He even will send me some heart-rending pain,
So I'll learn new ways and His holiness gain.
His disciplines always are with love imbued,
A love that seeks ever my ultimate good.
So this is my story; ongoing it is.
How shall I thank God for this gospel of His?
A gift that keeps giving, the gospel confers
The bounty of heaven each time I rehearse.
Deserve it?  I don't on my holiest day;
But this is salvation, and herein I'll stay.

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