Three Ps in a Pod. part 4

I hope you have been enjoying this Three Ps in a Pod series. It has been very fulfilling for me to write it! =-)

Olive Garden breadsticks. Can you smell them? As you know, (if you have read About me) I wait tables at the Olive Garden. Hopefully, you have eaten at an OG and enjoyed your experience. There is something about the breadsticks that I want to share. Insider information, if you will.

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Breadsticks are served with every meal. You don’t even need to ask. They just appear. Here is the rule: the first time breadsticks are served, the number of sticks needs to equal the number of guests plus one. So, if you and your friend come in for lunch, I would bring 3 breadsticks to the table. If you ask for more, I only need to bring two.

That rule has always befuddled me. Why bring that extra breadstick? What is the reasoning behind it? People usually just fight over it anyway. Why the number of guests plus one? I don’t get it.

What is the purpose?

Have you guessed the last P in the series?

Pardon.

Peace.

Purpose.

As always, let’s go back to 2 Corinthians 5. Here are verses 18-20,

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sin against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,…”

We are ambassadors. And therein lies our purpose.

Our purpose is the reconcile the world back to God. Does that seem overwhelming? Are you strong enough to handle such a great task? Can I complete this mission on my own? NO! That is why we are ambassadors.

  1. An ambassador for Christ is a citizen of heaven. Even though we live, eat, breath, work, and play on this earth, our homeland is in heaven.
  2. An ambassador for Christ speaks on Christ’s behalf. Everything we say and everything we do should reflect the one who sent us.
  3. An ambassador for Christ has authority because of Christ. You and I may be surrounded by enemies. We may be in the direct line of fire from the evil one. Attacks could be (and are presently) coming from all sides. But we speak with the authority of one who has nailed the powers of this world to the cross!

AmbassadorsForChrist

There you have it. Purpose. God did a great work in us so we could go out and do a great work for him.

It all started because He loved us.

So if you have been reconciled to God, consider yourself an ambassador for Christ.

And don’t worry, he has your back. You are are covered in the blood.

Go with confidence and let God do the rest.

Three Ps in a Pod, part 2

You are pardoned. You are forgiven. And that is the first P! You already knew that though, if you read last week’s post, Three Ps in a Pod, part 1.

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Even as I type, this biblical truth baffles me. It does not seem like it should be. Why can you or I be pardoned? My feelings tell me that I don’t deserve it. My actions certainly don’t warrant it either. I am not worthy. At all.

But am I going to let my feelings dictate my actions?

Am I going to let my circumstances guide my behavior?

Am I going to let the devil’s lies provoke me?

In short, am I giving permission to believe anything other than God’s holy, unwavering, encouraging, inspired, and truthful Word?

If we go back to 2 Corinthians 5, specifically verse 14, we can see why we can answer “No” to the previous question.

Here is the second part of verse 14, “…because we are convinced that one died for all,” 

Convinced…are you convinced? Or do you just have an opinion? Is what you believe just that or is it a deep conviction that motivates you to act accordingly? More on this later…

The first P in the Pod is Pardon. You and I can have a full pardon from sin. WHY?

Because ‘one died for all’.

Listen, this is the bottom line. You want the meaning of life? Jesus died for you. Why are we put on this earth? Jesus died so we can live.

There are so many scriptures that point us to the cross on which Jesus died. The Easter season is coming up soon. People will go to church for the first and perhaps, the only time this year. The point is that life (and everything else we seek answers for) is found in the cross.

I don’t fully understand how God loved me enough to let His son die for me. But I will accept the pardon. Anyone can.

I was originally planning on explaining some of the Old Testament sacrifices that God required. All the blood! Then, in Hebrews, Jesus is described as better than those sacrifices. He used His own blood! Maybe a series on the Blood?

Know that His death and shed blood obliterated sin. The penalty of sin is gone. Remember two posts back? A new creation? Yes, that is you and I. We have been forgiven.

Pardon (noun)-that action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.

Our sin was an offense to God. We were cut off from Him. He wanted to love us and wrap His arms as a father hugs his child. But the bars of sin prevented such expression.

prison-bars

 

Hey, no problem. Here is the key to open those bars:

God’s son will be born as a baby.

Jesus will live as a human.

He will be sentenced, beaten, broken, and finally crucified.

He will die on that cross.

They will bury his body in a borrowed tomb.

But then he will rise. He will ascend to heaven.

And then he will sit down because his work of salvation is complete.


Now we are free to be hugged by God because the bars of sin are no longer between us.

We have been pardoned.

Let God hug you right now. He is waiting.

 

Three Ps in a Pod. part 1

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!” NIV

Doesn’t that just sound great reading that verse? I am filled with hope just knowing that I am a new creation! But there is still more so for the next two minutes, let’s see what we can discover!

Therefore…how many times do we see that word in Scripture? In 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, the NIV has it listed 3 times. So what is it there for?

Our verse, verse 17, starts with “Therefore…”. So we need to ask the question,
What is it there for?


 

Paul is writing to a church that is having some issues. Many of these issues are similar to ours today. I think that the Corinthians were having an identity issue. Christ had done a redeeming work but the people were not translating that to their daily lives very well.

Chapter 5 starts with Paul describing how our bodies are temporary. We will be clothed with glory when we die. Verse 10 talks of the judgement seat of Christ. All will stand before Christ someday. This should galvanize us to live all the more for Christ!

There is a transition, then, into verse 11. The author is trying to explain why he preaches and lives the way he does. Jumping to verse 14, it reads, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all,…”

I love the strong language…compels. Who is compelled these days? Wow!

And more strong words…

“one died for all…”

Because my two minutes is almost up, I will get right to it.

You have been pardoned for your sin. I have also been pardoned.

The sin is gone.

I will jump into this blissful pool of sin-eradication next week.

Until then, enjoy your Pardon. =-)

Something familiar yet strange again.

So I was thinking…pondering something today. A certain verse came to my mind this morning and it has been bouncing around all day.

But I don’t really understand it. It boggles my mind. I made scrambled eggs for my kids this morning. It feels like my mind is just like those eggs, all scrambled.

This verse is one that I have known for as long as I can remember. But today, I felt like it was a new verse, one I had never heard before. It seemed to be so full of promise and hope.

All I need is for God to open my eyes (Psalm 119) to the depth and richness of His words. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth (John 16).

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Words so engrained yet they barely register. If I am ‘in’ Christ, I am new. I didn’t feel old. Maybe not old but dead.

Yes, that’s it. Dead. No purpose. No sense or reason to live. Sin had it’s way with me. I was dead but now I alive, new!

All because of Christ. Everything is a result of what He has done. Everything. He is the vine and I am a branch.

I can’t do anything without Him.

I don’t own anything without Him.

I am nothing. Old.

BUT WITH HIM…I can do anything.

I have anything and everything I need. He is my all and everything.

 

Wow…”The old has gone, the new is here!”

How far to Wall Drug from here?

Have you ever seen this a billboard or bumper sticker like this?

wall drug

In my road trip out west, we encountered numerous Wall Drug signs. See my previous posts of my Yellowstone trip for some background info.

Wall Drug is a small town in western South Dakota. It’s near Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. But you probably would not drive there just to see Wall Drug. It makes a great pit stop when seeing many other attractions. And for us, it was the last stop before heading east, back home.

As far as a tourist trap, this one sets out a fantastic bait. There are signs for miles and miles in every direction telling that Wall Drug is getting closer. They advertise anything and everything. If curiosity killed the cat then I am glad I am not a cat. I don’t recall when I first heard about Wall Drug but I feel like I have know about all my life. Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, the Grand Canyon, and similar places are places you just know about. Wall Drug is like that. You just always know that it is a real place. They have really good marketing! Like this picture I found online.

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When you are at Wall Drug, there are, of course, the shops. But I found that the real treasure was in all of the pictures they have hanging on any available wall. Pictures of all things Wall Drug. Like the one of the marine. There were hundreds of people from all over the world with signs saying how far Wall Drug was from their location. It was bizarre and fascinating!


Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus says that the disciples would be empowered to be witnesses. Not lawyers, judges, or even jury members but simply witnesses. They were supposed to tell what they have seen and heard.

Isn’t that what these Wall Drug signs that are scattered all over the earth are doing? They, in a very clear manner, state that Wall Drug is X miles away. They might have pictures or sayings on them as well. But they are not Wall Drug. The signs are just that, signs. They tell of something else.

When people see your life, what message are they getting? John the Baptist was a sign. He was very clear that he was not the Christ. Read the full story here.

I close with these thoughts:

  • I am a sign and so are you.
  • God has filled His followers with His Spirit.
  • He can help us to display the right message.
  • What are people reading in your life?

 

By the way, Google maps tell me that I am 775 miles from Wall Drug.