Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What Will Your Name Tag Say?

Dear Friends,

I was driving down a side street in Glendale when I saw him pushing a shopping cart. No big deal. Homeless guys are all over the place. A blight on the neighborhood and a public nuisance. I passed him by without another thought. Until the small, still voice of the Lord spoke to me. “Give him $5.00.” I was on my way to work and running late as usual so I ignored God and kept driving. The Holy Spirit said it again, “Give him $5.00.” Dang! I began to feel that all too familiar conviction in my spirit that I needed to do what He’s telling me. I went around the block, circled back, pulled up alongside the man and handed him a five dollar bill. I told him, “I just want you to know that God loves you so much that He had me drive back just to give this to you.” Tears filled his eyes and I drove away with tears in my own. But it was not until later that I realized that I'd given that five dollar bill to Jesus. Sometimes we’re the sheep.

Then there was the time on the mountain road. We came around a curve and saw an old gray-haired woman at the side of the road, frantically trying to wave us down. I avoided her eyes as I drove on by and saw her car parked in the turn-out with an even older man sitting inside. Did she have car trouble or was he having a medical problem? I didn't know but it wasn't going to be my problem. As we rounded the corner, the voice of God spoke through the person sitting in the passenger seat. She said, “We should have stopped.” I replied, “Maybe someone behind us will stop.” It was not until later that I realized that the woman trying to wave me down and needing my help was Jesus. Sometimes we’re a goat.

It's going to be the biggest event the world has ever seen. The day that Jesus comes back. And He's not coming alone. He will have the entire heavenly universe along with Him. He's bringing a huge angelic army and He means business. Matthew 25:31 No one will escape a Day of Judgement. Everyone will come from every corner of the world to stand before Him. It's time for the sheep to be separated from the goats. Matthew 25:32 But how will the Good Shepherd do this? 

Shepherds used their stick to gently – forcefully if need be – separate out sheep from goats who may be grazing in the same herd. The stick has a "crook" on the end to catch the hind leg of an animal if it tries to get away. There's no escape from the shepherd! But for you and me, Jesus won’t need a stick when He’s got a heavenly host of angelic warriors to help with the separation chores. 
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV 
We can evade Jesus in life but not in death. Each one of us will stand before Jesus as our entire life flashes before Him which is the most wonderful thought you can imagine or the most terrifying. The Son of God looking right at you. Penetrating your soul. Evaluating. Assessing. His gaze never leaves your face as He points to the right. Or points to the left. Matthew 25:33-34 You look down at your name badge. Is the word “GOAT” written there? If so, you don't get to make a phone call to your attorney. There is no higher court of appeals. God has spoken.

How is Jesus making these decisions? What's His criteria as He separates the sheep from the goats? The sheep will be the ones who fed Him when He was hungry and gave him water when He was thirsty. They gave Him clothing, took care of Him when He was sick and visited Him in prison. And the righteous will say, “Are you serious, Lord? We don't remember ever doing that?” Matthew 25:35-39 And Jesus will say something to you like this, “Do you remember when you came upon the man sitting on the bus bench and bought him a hamburger? Remember the time you gave those winter coats to the woman’s shelter? Do you remember the men you saw when you went to the fire camp at Christmas with the prison ministry? That was Me you met at the bus stop, at the shelter and in the prison camp. Every act of kindness and compassion that you did to the least of My brothers and sisters was done to Me.” Matthew 25:40

We are saved through Christ alone by faith alone. 
The evidence of our salvation 
is our good works and changed life.

We know that we are saved by God's grace, not by our works, deeds or actions. But if our faith is in principle only and not in practice are we really saved? Matthew 7:21-27, James 2:14-18 NLT Good works doesn't result in salvation. Good works is the result of salvation. Only the saved can truly love their neighbor like Jesus does. John 13:34-35 A Christ-like love for others will always manifest itself in tangible ways as we reach out to serve those who need the love of Jesus. 

Small deeds. A drink of water. Simple acts of kindness. Helping a stranger. They may have the weathered, grimy face of a homeless man or the troubled face of a stranded woman motorist. They all look different. Distressed. Discouraged. Downcast. Different faces but all with the face of Jesus.  Amen?

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