Christianity, Devotionals

Accepting Christ…or Receiving Christ–What’s the Difference?

man holding sheep statuette

We all have prayed that our friends and family members will make a sincere profession of faith in Christ, that they will “accept Jesus” as their Savior and Lord. Occasionally I hear about someone’s having prayed to “accept Christ” and later learn that the person fell away. I’m quite sure, according to Scripture, such a person was not authentically saved to begin with, and I think that we Christians may be contributing to that sad fact without realizing it. I believe the Lord is challenging me to examine some Christianese we speak in the light of Scripture. Do we really mean what we are saying, or have the words we use become a habit or a formula that may be misleading?

For example, we often use the phrase “accept Jesus Christ.” I researched the words “accept,” “accepting,” and “accepted” in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, and nowhere does the Bible use the word “accept” in that way– accepting Christ. On the contrary, the word is almost exclusively used in the Old Testament to describe what God did when a Jew brought an offering to the LORD. If it was an animal without spot or blemish, the Scriptures say the offering would be accepted by the LORD. If the animal were imperfect in any way, God would not accept the person’s offering. I’m no Greek or Hebrew scholar, but nowhere in the entire English King James Version is there a single verse that says that we are to accept Jesus

God is the “acceptor.” We have no standing to accept Him. God doesn’t need us to accept Him. We need Him to accept us. Problem is–we’re unacceptable as we are.

bible book business christian

Oh, you may be thinking, You’re just quibbling over words. What difference does it make? Well, words are containers of thought. If we use the wrong words to talk about a thing long enough, it will make us think wrong thoughts. It could make a huge difference in the way we present the gospel to the lost, and whether they truly understand salvation.

Under the New Testament we no longer bring animal sacrifices, but we still must be acceptable to God to be saved. Before our salvation we were lost sinners –spotted and blemished lambs, totally unsuitable as an offering to Him. Only the offering of Jesus, the perfect Lamb, was acceptable to God the Father. We were hopelessly helpless to be acceptable to Him outside of Christ. That is why Christ is the ONLY WAY. That is why a person’s being hid “in Christ” is  his only hope of being acceptable or accepted. We believers should know that. However, that’s not the way salvation is often presented in mainstream evangelical Christianity. I don’t think the unsaved are led to really grasp the perilous nature of their situation.

For example, you may have seen the illustration of how a person can accept Jesus as his Savior where a preacher takes some object, usually a pen, from his pocket and extends it toward a person as a gift. The preacher says that in order to receive the gift of God, all you must do is reach out and accept the gift. There’s the word again. It’s free and easy. Piece of cake. I have used that illustration myself. Now I think it is so misleading.

We American are always suspicious of a free gift…

” …and that’s not all. If you call within the next ten minutes, you will receive a second slicer-dicer absolutely FREE. You only have to pay a separate fee.”

Twenty-first century Americans are cynical. They don’t want a slicer/dicer. They don’t want a ball-point pen. When we present the Gospel that way, it seems cheap, like a cheesy commercial. Lost folks will not appreciate or understand their desperate position and the gravity of their future without God’s intervention. That sort of shallow presentation probably will not produce a heart change at all. And unless God changes their hearts, they will be swallowed up by the evil world, and forever lost. We must not short-circuit God’s process.

So, how can changing one single word help produce a heart change? Please consider the following:

  •     “Accept” gives the illusion of salvation’s being something totally within our power, our choice to do. Nothing supernatural required.
  •    “Receive” says we acknowledge and surrender to God’s Power and His grace  for it to happen. Totally supernatural.

Jesus told us “Ask, that ye may receive.”  We are in a submissive position when we “ask.” God is the authority, we are not. We are never told to accept Him. We have no authority to “accept Jesus.” Why, the very thought becomes ludicrous, the epitome of arrogance.

We approach Jesus with a humble, penitent heart, asking Him to forgive us and to please come into our hearts, save our souls. He will know if our prayer is honest, and He has promised to respond to such an honest prayer. He will come in, and we will gratefully “receive” Him when He does.

What happens next will be the subject of my next post.

I challenge us to listen for those two words–“accept” and “receive”–in our daily conversations and to pray for discernment as to which word is relevant.

 

Alaska, Devotionals

THE FINAL DAYS OF AN ALASKAN SUMMER – PART ONE

Alaska worked wonders again this summer. We go there to decompress …

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to escape the world …

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to stretch wide in the vastness of the land …

…. and to work with our hands.

 

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DECOMPRESSING:

The World is too much with us in the Florida city where we live for eight months. We go to Alaska four months to decompress. The damp air is pure and deliciously fragrant with spruce, moss, and wildflowers. Merely walking around the property is restorative, refreshing the soul. Every wildflower declares the glory of  my Creator who is intimately aware of my every step, every thought, every breath. He created this blossom for me to enjoy today. 

Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”       JESUS

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Now the days are shorter, the mornings noticeably cooler, and the birch trees dance against the cobalt sky. Winds toss these tall branches with a distinctive rustling sound, reminding me of Jesus’ words–

The wind bloweth where it willeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but can’st not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So is every one who is born of the Spirit.”

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Do you experience the God you cannot see, but you can hear, and feel?

 

This Alaska Summer, Lord,

You provided yet again …

unfettered Time…

on Your vast Land … 

rejoicing in Your Presence…

 knowing Your Spirit like the wind …

  invisible but palpable …

   moving as You send…

 

Lord, I’m so grateful!

Amen

 

Devotionals

Free Indeed

When Jesus saved me, soon He began revealing an amazing truth to me: I do not have to sin any more. I am free from sin. That is not to say that I am free of sin, because sometimes I forget this amazing truth. I can still get distracted by my old nature, defend my personal rights, let myself become offended and hurt. Occasionally I still get angry. I still can sin, but now I am free from its dominion.

Before salvation I did not have a choice. I was a sinner! I often became angry when I thought someone had trampled on my personal rights, didn’t give me the respect I thought deserved, maybe ruined my possessions, stole from me, lied to me, were unfaithful to me, spread hurtful rumors about me, cut me off in traffic… yeah, pretty much anything. I would react with anger and I feel, “I have a right to get angry when people do these things! It’s just not fair! What did I do to deserve this?

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However, at salvation, when Jesus’ Spirit entered my soul, He began to talk to me. He non-verbally said something like, “Well, are you enjoying your little angry fit — your little pity party?”

I responded, “No, but did you see what they did to me, how they hurt me? It was so unfair!

Jesus’ still, small voice said, “Yes, I saw it all, and I completely understand. Do you remember what they did to me? How they hurt me? It was so unfair!”

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“Oh, yes, Jesus. That was truly unfair what they did to you!”

“So, do you enjoy being so angry?”

“No, of course not. I don’t enjoy it at all, but I can’t stop!”

“No, that’s no longer true. Now you can stop. Now nobody can make you become angry. Now, nobody has the power to steal your peace — if you remember where you are and whose you are.

“Whose I am?”

“Yes. Now you are Mine. You surrendered all to me. Remember that day? It was July 28th, 1974. You gave me your life, your body, your possessions, everything! That day you asked Me to come in, and I received you. I took you in, placed your soul securely in Me in Christ. So now “where you are” is in Me! Now, everything — even every unfair thing — that comes your way must pass through me to get to you. Now I am your Abba Father. You no longer have to protect yourself, retaliate, be hurt and angry. I already know all things coming in your future. I will intercept them and transform them, especially the hurtful things, working them together for your good, gradually conforming you into My image. Don’t be afraid. You don’t have to be in control any more. You are not alone. I will never leave you.

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Hold My hand, and I’ll walk with you from here on. There will be battles, but I will walk with you through every one. When you feel afraid, hold on tighter to me. I’ve got this.

“Yes, Lord.”

FREE INDEED

Alaska, Jack B. Nimble

Alaska Arrival – May 18, 2018

When last I wrote, we were in Montana, the weather had become increasingly cold at night, snow still lay along the roadsides, and we were not even in the mountains. I became increasingly apprehensive about continuing north alone where snow and below freezing temperatures were forecast, where there was a real doubt that campgrounds with electricity would be open yet, and the clincher — where we had no way to heat our tent camper except a small electric space heater, and… Jack was cold!

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This was an entirely different situation from our only previous road trip to Alaska — which was made in the height of summer, and we camped in a hard-sided, gas-heated camper. So, we made a difficult decision — to drive west to Tacoma, Washington, put the car and the camper on a ship for Anchorage, and to fly the rest of the way to our summer home. We did that, arriving in Soldotna the morning of May 8th. I apologize to all of you who have been faithfully following our progress, but I know you understand.

Our last three days camping we spent in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. We camped in a most interesting town in Idaho named Wallace. It was established as a silver mining town in the 1800’s. In an antique shop in Wallace, Tom bought a very odd antique musical instrument. It’s a “valve trombone,” and the best we can determine by looking it up on-line is that it’s a rare J.W. Pepper and Son instrument, made in the early 1900’s. Tom polished, and now it actually looks silver.

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In Washington we camped two nights in a park by Moses Lake. They were having a bass fishing tournament, so Tom was entertained. Canadian geese with dozens of goslings paddled around the lake. Cute!

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On Monday morning we took the car and the trailer to the port to ship out for Anchorage, and caught a ride to the Sea-Tac airport to spend the next 10 hours waiting for our red-eye flight to Kenai. We made it home about 6:30 Tuesday morning.

So, we have been home for over a week now. It has been cold (40’s) and rainy almost every day thus far. The birch trees have tiny green leaves, there is still a lot of snow on the mountaintops, and we have spent several days working to clean out the back acre. Tom has cut up fallen birch trees, cut scraggly lower limbs from spruce, and hauled over 4000 pounds of debris to the dump.

Our back acre is virgin territory — never built on, never cut as far as we know. This week we have been inundated with moose! They have taken to bedding down out back, and

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when they do, they are almost invisible. There are three moose in this picture. See if you can find Waldo.

Last year two wonderful friends from Church in Florida came to visit, and they built me a greenhouse!

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Yesterday I was planting vegetables in it when Tom came rushing in. A mama moose and her two yearlings had quietly walked up behind him while he was cutting wood out back. They followed him toward the greenhouse…

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… and while we watched, they strolled by like they own the place…

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… which they really do, come to think of it.

So far, I have planted tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in the greenhouse.

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Lettuce and cool weather vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and cabbage we’re keeping on the upstairs balcony to protect them from the moose.

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Someday, perhaps we’ll build a moose-proof fence and plant such things in the ground. For now, the balcony is fine and easy to check every morning. We have grown vegetables up here before, and they do very well.

I think I’m running out of space for this post, so I will continue the Alaska story in a few days.

Thank you for reading!

Alaska

April 18, 2018 Alaska Drive Prep

Four days and counting…. then it’s goodbye, Florida. Alaska, here we come. We’re watching the frigid weather carefully. All that snow up north makes me nervous, but if it snows, we’ll stop until it melts.

[For earlier posts about the Alaska Adventure go to March 23, 2018 Alaska Plans and March 27, 2018 Alaska Adventure.]

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A couple of weeks ago, we set up our little Flagstaff pop-up camper in the front yard and started getting ready for our 5500 miles trip to Alaska. We cleaned it, painted what needed painting, bought a new battery, new propane tank, and new tires.

  • 20180418_144838.jpg Here is our little camper.  Folded down it’s teeny, and tracks like there’s nothing behind the car. Inside, it’s pretty roomy. It has heat, AC, heated mattress (wired like electric blankets) two big wing beds, a dining table, great for cards on a rainy day, little fridge, microwave, the outside stove that we can take inside if the weather’s bad. We removed the water tank to make more storage space under a settee. There’s a tiny kitchen sink, but no bathroom or shower facilities. Nowadays, pretty much all campgrounds have bathhouses.

To prepare our Jeep, we put on new tires, new brakes, pads, and changed all the belts20180418_144854.jpg and hoses. There are very long desolate stretches of highway  British Columbia or the Yukon. The car is a 2009, but only has around  69,000 miles on it, so it should be fine.

Plans are great, but I want to remember, “The horse is armed against the day of battle, but safety is of the LORD.”

So, we covet your prayers as we undertake this adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

Devotionals

April 3, 2018 “Count It All Joy!”

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”  James 1:1-4 KJV

 

Let all the earth rejoice!
Let all the earth rejoice!

 

I have heard people say, “Never pray for patience, or God will send you trials.”

Perhaps people say such things as just a joke, or maybe they have believed a false doctrine that God works that way. Trials come because you and I live in a fallen world with sin, sickness, war, and ignorance, a world under temporary dominion of the prince of this world, Satan. The earth itself is groaning, awaiting our full redemption.

So, just why does James encourage me to “count it all joy?” I believe it’s because the trials that the devil sends for evil, God works together for my good, having predestined me to be conformed to the image of His  dear Son. I can “count it all joy” because I am given the amazing opportunity to demonstrate that in Christ I am already counted victorious over any trials the world, the flesh or the devil can throw at me.

But… if  I’m not firmly grounded in God’s Word and I’m walking in the flesh, I can sometimes forget that, and listen to Satan’s lies and temptations — “You don’t deserve these trials. It’s just not fair. You should be terribly afraid of what’s happening. You should complain a lot about the pain you are having to endure.”

When I listen to Satan, I murmur and complain like the children of Israel did in the wilderness, and I miss the blessing of following God’s path to victory.

Conversely, joy comes when I recognize the lies of Satan and declare, “You are wrong, Satan! I deserve so much more than these trials. I deserve hell. So, Satan, I no longer fear the trials you send because my greatest fear has been removed by Jesus. Because I’m forgiven of my sin, hell and death hold no torment for me. Satan, I am so consumed with gratitude for what Christ has done for me, I refuse to let you steal my joy today.”

My pastor Jeff says, “Once you have an answer for death, anything else becomes bearable.” I think he’s right. All other trials provide an opportunity to praise God for his mercy and his grace.

This morning the sun came up again, and it was beautiful. Mockingbirds sang in the trees, and I watched a baby dove learn to fly.

God is good all the time, and today I rejoice that all is well with my soul.

Maranatha!