God is so awesome. Last week after writing the blog I heard the song, “Enter in- Psalm 100” and it fortified my soul. It also caused me to reconsider what “offerings” we bring to the sanctuary. So free from the law, free from offering goats, bulls, etc. we are to bring in our best.  I’m thinking that a couple of songs can’t replace a whole bull. Bull in our culture is just a show on Netflix. How far removed we have gotten from the Old Testament sacrifice of giving God our best. As a youth pastor I once had the teens experience sacrifice old school, it was gross, time consuming and laborious. We are so thankful that the New Testament has given us the New Covenant!

We heard a really good sermon this weekend on “Denying Yourself” and we were stirred to follow Jesus with passion.  That’s all part of sacrifice isn’t it? The thought was that if we don’t get the new toy or dress, we can give to God’s work, missions, etc. In a Kardashian culture, no wonder the church is missing walls, staff support and all kinds of blessings.  I wonder if God feels like He gets a bad deal week after week when we slump into our church chairs and hope someone else “stirs it up”. That’s a lot of ecclesiastical pressure placed on the leaders. I’m praying about what to bring as an offering this week and if we can “offer” something to God’s people as stand-ins for Him? Your thoughts in the comments below would not only be appreciated but might slow down my Russian hacker that is sure to get saved any day now. Smile.

The Bible for the blog this week comes from Romans 5 (ESV):

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Our family used this text for a mini-retreat this weekend. It has been a theme for us for a while. Justified means made right with God or as the kids say “Just as if I’d never done it.” Throughout my graduate studies we tested hundreds of ways to peace including yoga, vitamins, stress management techniques, resting retreats, massage, aromatherapy, etc. It was a fun journey but the conclusion of all of that was – we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. The other things are mere additives– no matter the price tag, source or random study done in some government building.

Because of Christ, because of His BIG sacrifice (that wasn’t measly, greedy, stingy, weak, misdirected or meager) we have obtained access…

Jesus gave us some keys so to speak. He gave us keys to God’s presence that let us know we are acceptable to Him, because of what He’s done for us. It also lets us know His favor is on us. We should reek of His grace, His favor, even when we are unaware of it. Not because of Bible College, church affiliation, good works but because He made a way, opened the DOOR and gave us FULL ACCESS by faith into this grace in which we stand. We enter in… because we’ve been invited and given The Key.

The idols in your mind should be rebelling about now because it just sounds too good to be true. You know, the idols we all build from past hurts and establish after years and years of being discounted, marginalized, slandered, rejected or thinking we are too miserable or wretched for anything good from God. If you don’t resonate with that last sentence either you are super spiritually healthy  or have never wrestled the enemy for souls and need to get in the battle. There’s just no way human minds can ever conceive of all that God has in mind or in store. That’s why we need to STAY in the Bible so we could be reminded of the revelation that Jesus is for us and not against us – no matter what our enemies (or friends) or even ourselves say.

That access does not come because you study, fast or worship 24/7. Jesus is positioning us for a much bigger “clique” where all are welcome and connected based on His blood and not small group or large group identification. It does not come from being part of a generation of young people and wearing certain jeans or having a certain hairstyle. It does not come from grey hair or apostles regardless of their title. That access solely comes from Jesus and it cost Him -His life.

Access implies trust, acceptance, familial relationship and we get that from Christ not because we deserve it but because HE IS GOOD. It is given to ALL those who love Him and accept that blood stained payment for sin, not just a select few. That access also means FAVOR because He has made us ACCEPTABLE to God. You don’t even have to join the churches praying for gold bricks or helicopters because it is not how or what YOU pray, it is based on Jesus and what HE’s prayed and done. Hallelujah. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Woohoo.

Favor means you are positioned to receive blessings from the Heavenly Father. It does not mean money, positions or titles. It is not reliant on human material blessings. The best favor someone can have is to waltz into Heavenly Daddy’s throne room and hang out for a while.  I think the reason most people neglect prayer is because they don’t realize:

Who is waiting to speak to them.

Who is waiting to listen to them.

Or possibly, someone else’s opinion has blocked the knowledge that there is therefore now no condemnation! We have audience with the King of Kings, who rules the universe and has sovereign power to change the tides and sunset with one movement of His hand! That’s huge. All other favors are smaller, lesser, tiny.  Jobs, houses, money will all pass away but relationship with the Holy One – is Eternal and Awesome.

While having devotion time this morning, my little boy and I saw a commercial that popped up on You tube. It was for Degree deodorant and had a catchy drum beat. We laughed about DOOR in the middle of deo-dor-ant. The ad promised that Degree would “never let you down”. Wow.  Society thinks the idols of education, money, power or prestige would work but all we needed to buy was some deodorant? That idol sounds good because you could get one for your purse, one for your gym bag and one for your vehicle. Until … you run out. Deodorant has really come a long way. Lol. I know of One that has come a much longer way and is the only One who will never let us down. The Eternal One wants to replace the immediate and temporal idols in our lives, giving us permanent acceptance and favor with the King. Whichever one we choose will determine the doors and blessings that open. The One who sits on the throne, the One who offers Peace also offers access.

Access is offered not to the spiritually mature or brilliant or wise but to the one who relies on and worships the One who paid the penalty for their sin.

Our status,  our belief system, our status all just increased. The Lord of Lords and King of Kings has made a way for us, for me to enter in. Me, a little ol white woman from the Dakotas. That’s amazing. I must have spent many days in defeat because I didn’t realize how powerful that could be if I realized what that meant! The One who never changes, never lets us down, never forsakes us is waiting for me. I’m acceptable to Him, so much so that He beckons me to enter His gates. He has made me so favored that He invites and gives me access to come into His courts… with singing! How many people do you know that want to hear your voice and would pause to hear your singing to or for them? Lalalala!

Irrevocable invitation. No one can slander you there. No one can gossip about you or malign your character there. Accepted and favored one, the robe of righteousness has been placed on you and the King has invited you into HIS presence. Outside in the hallway the naysayers may hear the echoes of, “who can separate us from the love of Christ, nothing!”

Idols of our generation and nation do not promise unconditional love, stop serving them. Idols do not give us unconditional access. Stop serving them. Their worship is based on human’s needs, emotions and situations not ONE sacrifice made for All. Dead idols cannot reciprocate love or favor. Idols are earthly and do not have Heavenly perspective. Idols are subject to stress, weather, financial difficulties and popular opinion and conflict. God, who sits in the Heaven laughs at the things man reveres and worships.

If man/woman did not give you access to God, they cannot take it from you. If spiritual, legal, local, church authority did not give you access to God, they cannot take it from you. If good works did not give you access to God, bad works cannot take it from you. Access to God comes from one source and one source only – Jesus and His blood stained sacrifice and resurrection to give us life.  That or I should say HE is the reason we stand in grace. If it required SO much of Him, why would we neglect to great a salvation? Why would we neglect so great an invitation? How would we orchestrate any other purpose or plan than coming before Him on a regular basis?

The King waits… The Bridegroom beckons… The Holy Spirit draws and longs for us to enter in as accepted, favored sons of the King. We did not realize Lord. The way was open but we have let lesser gods distract us. We have allowed idols to entice us. We have let other humans condemn us, clouding our vision of the open Door.

We enter in, not because it is our ritual. We enter in, not because of what we bring. We enter in, not because it’s Sunday. We enter in, not because it’s a reasonable sacrifice or part of the worship hour. We enter in because we have been given access by Jesus for an audience with the King.

We choose to what degree we will enter in – He chose to give us FULL Access.