EARNED? Part 2

I was reminded yet again- less than a week later- that not only does the military share the worldly mindset of everything being earned, but so does the nursing profession. This bumper sticker read “eaRNed,” with the e, a, e, and d being in lower case, while the r and n were capitalized for emphasis and the obvious reference to nursing.
As in Part 1, I am not at all downplaying or undermining the honorable roles of nursing or soldiering, or the important and absolutely necessary work that they do for everyone. It is no wonder, I suppose, that they share this idea as well since they help make up the world. It is just a further demonstration of the prevailing attitude that we are responsible for the work(s) that we do and are, as such, deserving of the merits, rewards or accolades that come with it.
Let me address this in two ways. Firstly, this is really not true. Yes, we do the work physically and set our minds to do it. But, it is God and God alone who gives us our breath every morning. And everything else we do relies on this single breath continuing second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” This is from the very first book of the Bible!
Isaiah the prophet says in the forty-second chapter and the fifth verse, “…the Lord who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it…” And the prophet Ezekiel tells us in 37:6, “And I will lay sinews” (muscles, tendons) ”upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So it is the Lord God who gives life and the ability to do everything else by which breathing is simply the foundation. We should wake up grateful everyday instead of taking it for granted.
Secondly, and this is a widely observed trait among humans from our earliest years (two and upwards) and somewhat of a curiosity to those who don’t know the Word of God: Why is it that we humans are so quick to take responsibility for things that are good or that go well, while simultaneously quicker to escape accountability and to assign blame to someone else when we are responsible???
Not surprisingly, we can find the answer in the very first book of the Bible as well! Genesis chapter three tells the true account of the very first sin of mankind- the act of disobedience. While the book of James chapter four alludes to the why, Genesis 3: 8-13 explains the initial what. It shares, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God” (accountability) “walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman who you gave to be with me’ (blame) ‘she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said (blame), ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.’”
The very first creatures who were created and were perfect (blameless, innocent, without guilt or sin) chose out of the freedom that the Creator endowed them with, to disobey. That’s called SIN. That’s a word we don’t like to use today because it reminds us of our guilt before God, our Judge. When we sin, we do earn the consequences. That is something, however, we should embrace and not to hide from. Why? Because Jesus Christ was sent on purpose by God. He left Heaven. He subdued His divinity. He took upon Himself humanity. He, not us, took and endured the penalty of our sins upon Himself. Did He earn or deserve that? Absolutely not! Should we accept our own punishment of death for our own sins? Yes. Thank Almighty God that His love (entirely different from ours) and mercy outweighed His judgment. We have “earned” Hell by both our nature and our deeds. Thanks Jesus the Redeemer that we don’t have to get what we deserve because He willingly got what He didn’t deserve. It’s not too late to repent, be forgiven and receive the salvation we can never earn. He is coming back any day. All prophecies have otherwise been fulfilled. Look at the world around you. What will you choose?


EARNED? Part 1

I was driving in my car the other day when I found myself behind a car with a bumper sticker which read, “Earned, Never Given” speaking of respect. This is a Marine motto. The Marines have a reputation of being a well-trained, well-disciplined and loyal fighting force and we are grateful to them, along with all the other branches of the military, for their courage, dedication and service. Our country such as it is today would be far worse if it weren’t for their protection. It is by no means a denigration to them, but most certainly an elevation of God, when I share what I do today.
Heaven’s motto is just the opposite: “Given, Never Earned,” concerning forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life. The Lord spoke to me in my spirit and shared with me that those in the world who have not been born again (as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in the third chapter of the Gospel of John) have the same mindset as the Marines. They just apply it to their lives differently because they erroneously believe that by their good deeds or nature they can somehow earn a heavenly eternity. Or worse, they mistakenly surmise that because they are not murderers or rapists or the like, they will enter Heaven as long as they stay the course; that they are already good enough—or not bad enough—to be kept out of Heaven and go to Hell. They must think lowly of God’s dwelling, that it is somehow better than earth, but not perfect. Why do I say that? Because if it will receive imperfect souls, then itself cannot be perfect; at least not at the moment the first imperfect one arrives there. (Of course, that is a metaphor because nothing unclean can be in God’s presence.)
Thank the Creator and King of Heaven, Jesus Christ Himself (along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the divine Godhead), that it IS a perfect place. Otherwise, who would want to go there and why? It would be like trading an ’85 Escort for an ’02 Camaro; it might be a step up, but it’s still used and far from ideal.
Thank Him for His MERCY! A perfect God in a perfect Kingdom who made (spoke into existence) a perfect world. What happened? In His perfection He created us with the ability to think and to choose for ourselves, much like a civilian having the choice to enlist and serve his country rather than to do it out of compulsion or out of a wrong motive. Freedom has always been fought for and hard-won, but it is necessary. The trouble lies in making a clear and rebellious wrong choice. You don’t last long in the military, and others who trust your obedience to strategy and orders for their lives on the battlefield or in the air, would not willingly give their lives to save your’s if they suspected such behavior.
However, those in the military should have no problem appreciating Jesus’ suffering and model of the original and ultimate sacrifice (though His was eternal, not temporal). The command He gave to His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Would a soldier or airman go a step further by doing it for many (all) and for a traitor (a disobedient person)? I doubt it seriously. But Christ did! That’s the greatest love and that’s mercy.
Reevaluate your life, your appreciation of and obedience to the “Commander” of the universe. Do you want to be captured by the enemy of your soul and be a prisoner for all of eternity? Or do you want to entrust your life and eternal soul to a merciful, loving, and forgiving (yet also wrathful), supreme Leader in a safe haven forever. Your ransom has already been paid. The arrangements for your release have been fulfilled. What will you do with your freedom and choice? Jesus is coming back very, very soon. Don’t be left fighting or be an eternal POW. Praise the Lord that “now is the day of salvation.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).