• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Used to be…but not any more!

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, who He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:1-15

“At one time…” The past for many of us boomers has little or nothing to recommend us for the mercy of God. Before we were born again, we were all dead in our trespasses and sins. How we strutted and stumbled about in our youthful foolishness, professing ourselves to be wise based on the self-deceived premise that all life was merely a matter of brute chance or random selection. Some who even embraced the idea of Christianity did so only to the extent that it equated with all other religions as man’s attempt to explain his existence.

We exalted our minds and intellects above any acknowledgement of the super-natural or the eternal except where death and the darkness of this world were concerned. Life was about here and now, and the future, though a mystery, was nothing to concern ourselves with since the pursuit of pleasure dominated our every waking hour. Some faced immediate consequences of their self-indulgences while others carried on secretly, or at least they thought, while wearing the appropriate face to the rest of the world but inwardly dying by every evil thought, malice, envy, jealousy and hatred that could be embraced.

We were ruled by our passions, even in the face of intelligent contradictions such as abusing the physical body with drugs, stimulants or depressants, or a host of self-indulgences and obsessions for pleasure could and often did lead to death. Yet people still engaged in the habitual practice of consuming poison into their bodies and minds for a momentary sense of euphoria only to crash and plunge ever deeper into an abyss of mental unrest, anxieties, physical weakness and decay and worse, death through disease and neglect.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:4-5

This is our reason for continual day-by-day moment-by-moment rejoicing. The love of God has appeared to us and we were able to see, receive and be transformed by Him. Today we are not what we used to be. Thank God we are not on a collision course with death, hell and the grave. The same Love that saved us has also broken the chains of death and delivered us from the kingdom of darkness in the Kingdom of His eternal light and life.

Not on the basis of our righteousness, not on the basis of our intellect or our mental or physical prowess, not on the basis of our talents or abilities, not on the basis of anything that we brought to the table but on the basis of our willingness to accept His grace and believe His word.

That’s it. That’s our claim to the overwhelming, all surpassing love of God that has been poured out on us generously by the Holy Spirit, through the all-excelling work of Jesus Christ, our Savior. He rescued us. He snatched us back from the fires of Hell. He delivered us from the eternal damnation and wrath of God against all sin. He stood in the gap and stretched out His soul over a chasm between God and us and made a highway for us to enter the Kingdom of Life, Peace and Joy. When the fire of judgment was hurled at all the sin that we had committed Jesus threw Himself in the path for us and took it all on Himself so that we would not suffer any of it.

And when the judgment of God was satisfied the same Jesus who bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases reached out His hand to us and touched us with the fire of His pure Love, melting our cold stony hearts, burning away the chains that bound us to our passions and lusts, removed the scales from our eyes so that we could see His beauty for the first time and look into the eyes of Love and see God.

This same Jesus by compassion and understanding that we are dust called us to Himself by His kindness that leads to repentance and said, “Come, follow Me!” And as we said, “Yes, Lord,” He said, “Your sins are forgiven, your iniquity is purged, you are now My righteousness. Come see My love for you engraved on My hands. I will never forget you or leave you comfortless. I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly!”

Love is calling each of us daily to lay aside our fears, our pride, our complaining and despair, to lay aside our hopeless conversation and negative speaking, to lay aside our faithlessness and un-forgiveness, to lay aside criticism of others and judging the hearts of those we don’t know. Love is calling us to lay aside cynicism and negativism, useless quarreling and wrangling over things that are not eternal, to lay aside hatred and greed, and do not dominate others but be humble remembering from where we came, and to take up the mantle of hope, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Love is calling us to live in the awesome place of continual communion with the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.

And now, we can say as the psalmist said,

“I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

When we do there won’t be room or time for anything else.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Jeremiah 51:54—52:34; Titus 3:1-15; Psalm 100:1-5; Proverbs 26:18—19


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