Facebook and I have a love hate relationship. I am thankful for the ability to keep up with friends and family; however, the constant demand for attention and the heaps of negativity and drama are draining to life. Over the past few years, I have only skimmed my newsfeed and I ignore Messenger even if the constant new message notification icon frustrates my OCD tendencies. There is so much more to life. Nonetheless, I enjoy still keeping up with my family and friends, and I especially love looking at my memories each day. There is nothing like taking a walk down memory lane. For multiple reasons, my memory (both short-term and long-term) is not good. Taking these daily strolls is always an adventure. But this week, I got a surprise.
In my memory feed, I saw some old photos of my children and dogs. I saw events and gatherings. I saw some quotes I shared. Then I saw a blocked post. A blocked post! The reason? It “goes against our community standards.” Community standards? What? This is the word of God. “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (NIV). This verse from Isaiah 12:2 was as important to me then as it is to me now. Such a powerful declaration, a memory that came on just the day when I needed to be reminded of it once again. But it doesn’t follow community standards. And what are the community standards? Safety, voice, and equity.
The Word of God will always convict the world. Though His Word is Truth and should be our plumb line in life, where we hold everything up to the True Standard—His standards, the world will always see this as folly. But these community standards speak of our God more than the world will ever know. When we find that there is no true safety from the dangers of this world, we find refuge in Him. We find salvation in Him. When we find that the voices of this world are often sharing lies and agendas and hate and destruction, we can rest in Him and trust Him. He is our strength and our defense. When the lies are spoken about us, He speaks over us His truth, His love, His grace. When the world seems like there is no fairness, no justice, no equality, we find that He so loved EVERYONE, that He sent His only Son to pay the ultimate price so that we ALL have the opportunity to come to Him, to be free, to be redeemed, to be healed, to live out a great inheritance as a child of God, a son or daughter of the God Most High. That despite the doings of the father of lies and our own sin and shortcomings, we can have a loving, eternal relationship with our Father. He is my safety, my voice, my equity.
And so today, even while the world has community standards and wants to block the truth and keep you from receiving all that God has for you, reach out to Him. Draw near to the One who is Hope. Cling to the One who is Peace. Rejoice in the One who is King. One day, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess—JESUS IS LORD!
“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2 [NIV]
When I was younger, it was always about how much I could do and how well I could do something. That was true even when it came to my relationship with God. I wanted to do my best in my actions and be the “good Christian.” I read my Bible. I tried to do what it said. But again and again I failed. We cannot be perfect. We are not perfect. Every time we fail some way or another.
We need to remember that it’s not our story; it is God’s story. It’s not because of what we do that saves us, but we have salvation through the blood of Christ. There is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves. Each of us needs saving. Jesus is the only way.
Salvation through Christ is a free gift. You do not work for it. You do not earn it. If your relationship with God is based on what you can do for Him and how you can follow His Word, you are missing out on what God truly wants and on what God can provide you. When it becomes a “you story” rather than God’s story, it is time to reevaluate your relationship with God and understand you are only set right through Christ. Stop making it about you.
“So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, ‘Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.’ If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.” – Romans 4:1-5 [MSG]
I have two crosses that I wear daily. The one cross I was given as a birthday gift by my dear friend and mentor; the other cross I received from my church when I finished the discipleship program and became an official disciple of the church. One day a fellow saw that I was wearing two crosses and he asked if I could give him one. As we continued to converse, I found that he wasn’t teasing for me to give him one since I had two, but that he felt that I had twice the blessing and protection of God while he was cross-less.
I told him that we each have our own cross to bear but I did not forget the encounter. Later in the day I thought about this man and his request for one of my crosses. He felt it would bring him protection and blessing. He felt it would help him to have one of mine. It was a firm reminder that we cannot save another person—we cannot give someone something that will provide them salvation, we cannot accept Jesus for someone, we cannot save someone.
Remember this truth as you go about your day today. Your unsaved friends and family, you may be the only one who can bring them the Gospel. Those of you who went to church all your life but never independently accepted Christ, stated your belief or have not been baptized, cannot depend on the faith of your family. You personally need to declare that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. Salvation is a beautiful gift, a gift only available from God through Christ Jesus. Do not miss out on this gift. Do not miss out on what God has offered you. It is not about wearing two crosses around your neck—it is about the life you can have through Jesus.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9 [NIV]