Free For the Taking

You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of (Ephesians 2:8-9, Common English Bible).

I love Reverend Fun cartoons. They are always so really spot on with their theology but at the same time, they do it with humor. I try to check in on Reverend Fun whenever I can because I usually walk away with both a good laugh and something to think about all rolled up in a quick, easy to read comic that again, is very thought-provoking.

When I was looking for a picture to use with today’s verse, I ran across this one. It was done more than 10 years ago, but most of Reverend Fun’s cartoons are timeless. This still points to the great truth that Jesus is God’s gift to the world and that evil will try to convince all of us that such is not the case.

But, when we believe, when we start to study the Scriptures, we come to realize the importance of grace. We begin to know that it isn’t about us. I ran across another cartoon while I was searching. Take a look at this one.

For so many of us, at least in the beginning, we think we can get right with God by the things we do, by living right, by showing up at church not only for worship but for work. We are going to justify our salvation by working hard. Working hard may make your boss happy. I know I am always happy with a hard working subordinate. It will not, however, make your God happy, at least no if your works are an attempt to buy your way in. You can’t earn it.

You can’t earn it, but you do have to believe it. Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life” (John 3:16, Keith’s Paraphrased Version). That belief is faith and because of your faith, God gives you grace.

That guy on the left has no chance. You can work yourself to death. Without faith, it will get you nowhere. But when you believe, when you have faith, you have gotten God’s attention.

Because of your faith, faith in Jesus Christ (or as the devil in the Reverend Fun cartoon put it, “God’s gift to the world”), God gives you the free gift of grace.

But, get this, you didn’t really do anything for your faith except taking another free gift from God. Paul lists the gift of faith as one of the “Gifts of the Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 12. That means nothing comes from us.

To use an analogy, here is how it works. Let’s say I have a $100 bill. I come up to you and offer you the money. You are skeptical of my motivations but I tell you it is a free gift from me to you. You did nothing to earn the money. What is left for you is, to accept or reject the gift I offer to you.

The same thing applies to the gifts of faith and grace. God offers them to us. It is up to us to decide if we will accept these gifts from God.

Take the gift. God really wants to give it to you. Plus, no matter what you do, you will never earn it. So take the gift and then thank God for giving you something so special.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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