No excuses, faith. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget about the law.

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.
People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
Romans 3:19-28, 30-31 NLT

Yes, there is a narrow path, best walked in love and gratitude, looking towards a Savior that we realize we do not deserve. And even as much as I find myself striving to live a life that is bringing Him Honor and glory – Occassionally, I  become distracted, I say something carelessly, I do something foolish. My focus turns outward and whoops,  there I go slipping into pride or sin or anxiety.

So,  no,  I am far from perfect,  but I do trust in my Savior. I am not the slave to sin that I used to be, but He’s opening my eyes to new chains,  new imperfections, new mountains daily – and when I walk in faith,  in the Spirit,  those mountains are crushed beneath His feet. But I have to admit that sometimes I lose focus, sometimes I’m not sure which way to go,  sometimes it seems like my enemies are ten deep around me and it is humbling to admit that I forget to rely on Him to bring me through,  for Him to win the battle.

I look at myself,  and I say, “Who am I to be bringing the Word of God to thug world?” And this is true if I were doing it under my own power,  or by my own plans and motives. But I’ll explain it as clearly as my limited understanding will allow – I cannot stop. I read the warnings about being a teacher and it fills me with the fear of God.

I love Christ,  I love the Word of God,  I love sharing the Hope,  Faith, and Love that I’ve received, whether or not the world cares to hear it. This fire,  it is in the very pit of my being, it overwhelms me in a way that I cannot explain. If it is my own will,  then Lord help me,  because it is beyond my ability to control,  it is a hunger for the very touch and presence of the Lord that drives me daily to new levels of insanity in the eyes of the world – which very well might be the only truly sane part of my life,  to focus on that which is eternal and not temporary.

But the whole idea of studying the law, but not measuring oneself wholly by the law – but instead to measure one’s faith by the day by day,  moment by moment reconciliation to be more like Christ? I tell you honestly,  friends,  at times I can let this striving after the wind drive me insane because I find myself chasing it with my mind instead of chasing Him with my heart. Too much book time and not enough knee time,  I tell myself – but prayer can become ritual and tradition as well.

My only hope is to trust in Him. Yes,  that’s why this is a faith journey and not a theology journey alone, not a religious practice alone, not a good works alone. Yes,  my faith produces these things,  but I know the deceitfulness of my own heart,  how it has fooled me in the past,  so I don’t even trust what might appear to be evidence of my faith in the good works and love shown towards others and good fruit – no my trust is not even in those things, nor in a prayer said,  nor in a water baptism, nor in an emotional reaction, nor in an altar call – my faith is in Christ alone and His promises revealed in the Word of God.

Yes,  faith is the substance of the thing that I hope for – and that is to be reconciled to my Savior, to raise my praise and worship to Him,  to live a life following in His footsteps. How can I be bold enough to hope for such a thing? Not because I think that I am strong enough to follow in His footsteps – No, not at all!

The Word of God tells me, “In my weakness, His strength is made evident.” And I do not praise my weakness, I am humbled by it,  and if it were not for my faith in His mercy and grace,  it would leave me in such shame and guilt that I might never escape the clutches of my enemies.

But He loves me,  as He does you as well. Do you know His forgiveness? Do you know His touch? Do you know His mercy and His love?

He bids you come to Him, turn to Him, set your eyes upon the Lord and know His healing touch.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’  In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:4-7 NLT

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
Luke 15:8-10 NLT

To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.  The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house,  and he asked one of the servants what was going on.  ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,  but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.  Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.  We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Luke 15:11-32 NLT

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