Joshua 8 Part 1–Joshua the Shepherd

When all is right with God, it is much easier to lead with confidence.  Joshua had grieved the loss of his men at the first battle of Ai. He grieved the sin of Achan and the punishment and pain it had caused. So, after dealing with the sin and dealing with the loss–God picked up his leader and gave him back the confidence to continue.  And continue Israel did.

This time God told Israel to take all the spoils of the battle. He devised the plan to ambush Ai.  He knew they would be cocky and confident and would not think like soldiers.  He was right.  Ai left themselves unguarded and their city open to attack because they were going to show those Israelites a thing or two. Israel seized on their overconfidence and destroyed them.  As the people finished up the battle and divided the spoils, Joshua was able to breathe. He had again brought the people back in line and in right fellowship with God. 

Joshua was again reminded He was a shepherd–not a general. His job was to lead his people to follow the Lord.  It was God’s job to then clear the land for the people.  

One of the most difficult parts of following the Lord is placing our confidence in Him, and not placing it in our own abilities.  It can lead us to make choices we regret, and or place us in positions where our overconfidence leads to our own destruction.  If we lead like Joshua led, seeking God, and allowing Him to lead us–then, the Lord will do amazing things.  If we try to wrestle control away from the Lord, God will allow us to have control but, He will also us to fall into the traps that come with it.

God Bless You


And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves. Lay an ambush against the city, behind it.”

So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. And Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. And he commanded them, “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready. And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. And they will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.” So Joshua sent them out. And they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night among the people…. And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25 And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. 26 But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction.[b] 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. 29 And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.

Joshua 6 Part 2–God Exalts Joshua

It was the last day of Jericho. The people had followed Joshua’s lead and did exactly what God commanded.  The city fell.  The people of Israel gathered the God , Silver and Bronze and stored it in God’s treasury while everything else was destroyed.  Rahab, the prostitute that hid the spies and helped them to escape, was saved and she and her family brought safely to Israel’s camp; where she spent the rest of her life as a member of God’s people, and ultimately a member of Jesus’s family tree.

Joshua made sure that all was completed according to God’s command and then cursed the rebuilding of Jericho. God used this first epic battle to set the stage for what was to be the complete victory for His chosen people.  

The last sentence of the chapter, speaks volumes, “The Lord was with Joshua and his fame was in all the land.” Joshua did not care about his personal fame. He was focused upon trusting and honoring God. As he followed God’s lead and honored God’s name–the Lord exalted Joshua.  He prepared Joshua for the campaign, God provided all that Joshua needed to win the victory and God then allowed the world to know that Joshua was God’s man with access to all that God would provide to complete the victory.

During difficult times and horrendous odds, we need to trust God even more.  He is the victory. God leads, and God directs us to a place of victory and peace even when the odds are not with us.  Israel lost no one, and Jericho was completely destroyed. 

We need God’s same leadership through these most difficult days.  Please join me in prayer as we seek God’s healing of this great nation.  The enemy would love to see us destroy one another–but, that is not God’s plan for His people. If we will trust God and seek Him, He will direct our path and heal our land!

God Bless You


On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.[b] Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.

22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

26 Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
    lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
    shall he set up its gates.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.

Joshua 6 Part 1–Joshua’s Leadership Perspective

Now, as a guy, I love action movies.  I have seen more westerns, war movies, and covert-ops intrigue movies than I can count.  I must admit, however, that in the hundreds of hours of entertainment that I have enjoyed–NEVER did the big battle scene start with a bunch of priests leading the brass section of a marching band…God’s ways rarely are the same as our ways. 

There are several reasons for that.  I want to highlight three.  First–God is God and we are not.  As Joshua watched God over the 40 years he spent in the desert; one thing became clear–It is God’s power and leadership that delivered Israel–not anything they had or did.  Manna from heaven, water from rocks, crossing seas and rivers on dry land, leadership by clouds of fire and smoke all reminded Joshua that God did the heavy lifting–and as leader; he needed simply to trust and follow.

Second, God sees all time at once.  The Lord knows the outcome at the same time He knows the planning.  God never has to wonder what the end looks like.  So, when God directed Joshua’s battle strategy, He did so already aware of the outcome.  Joshua saw God forecast for Moses the entire journey from Egypt–God was never wrong.  So, when God gave Joshua direction, Joshua never questioned it.  Joshua simply followed.

Finally, God made sure that His own name was exalted–not Joshua’s nor the Israel’s.  While that may sound egocentric, the reality was that when the people become the center of attention, they release their dependence on God, and become self-important.  That independence always leads to chaos and defeat. As a group, people are a mess. God loved Israel and wanted them to enjoy the inheritance that He provided.  The Lord knew that would never last unless they did things with humility and dependence upon Him. So, that was why God always did things in a way that pointed back to His plan and His power. Starting a war with a concert was a great way to show that enemies were facing God–not a bunch of nomadic wanderers. 

If we, as His chosen, could accept that truth as readily as Joshua accepted it, then we could experience the same victory and blessing that God gave Joshua.  Joshua led with wisdom and humility–that choice was and is a perpetual one; it is made daily and sometimes hourly.  It is a mindset that is not dependent upon circumstance.  It is a life of surrender and trust in the God that created and is in control of ALL things.

God Bless You


Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat,[a] and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”

And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.

15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.

2 Kings 13–The Pragtmatic End to the Pragmatic Prophet’s Story

So, the end of Elisha’s story is as simple as his time as God’s liaison.  He trusted God and simply did as he was told.  So at the end, the bible records 3 significant things:
  1. On his deathbed, Joash the king seeks Elisha’s council and receives a very positive prophecy
  2. Elisha died and was buried
  3. After Elisha was dead and buried, a dead man was tossed into Elisha’s tomb and when he touched Elisha’s bones, the dead man came back to life!
Elisha was a man that did not enjoy fanfare. So God honored that in the telling of Elisha’s story. Truly, however, it was clear that Elisha was a powerful prophet that had God’s support and power even after his death.  What an amazing tribute that even after he was dead and buried, Elisha could still raise the dead.
 
It would be amazing if one could be so faithful as to be able to show God’s power even after that person was dead and buried. I believe that would be a great tribute to the awesome power of God and his influence in and through my life.  It is my prayer, Lord, that you would lead me to honor you as faithfully as did your pragmatic servant Elisha!
 
God Bless You

Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”

15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. 16 “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.

17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”

18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”

20 Elisha died and was buried.

Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.

I Kings 4 Part 1–Elisha Highlights God’s Provision

I love Elisha’s style. A widow approaches Elisha.  She is completely distraught. Her husband died and left her poor and in debt.  Her creditor was in route to take her sons in payment for the debt as slaves.  She was heartbroken, hopeless and completely without options…well, except one. She came to God’s man and told Elisha her trouble and need.  Elisha, the pragmatic prophet, went right to work–“Go get all the jars you can put your hands on. Do not be shy and do not be lazy. Ask everyone.”  She does as he told her.  She gathers jars and jars.  He then tells her to take the little olive oil she has, and start filling the jars.  She does.  In that moment, God provides an ulimited supply of oil.  She continues to pour until the last jar is copmpletely full.  Then the oil stops flowing.  Elisha then tells her to sell the oil and pay the debts. Then use the rest to live from then on.
 
Once again God shows His miraculous ways in very simple fashion.  There was no pomp or ceremony. Elisha did not demand a special recognition or sacrifice.  He simply led the woman back to the provider and her faith caused an amazing thing to occur.  In that, she was saved and her family was kept in tact.  We need to have that same faith that looks around, assesses a situation, and allows God to do what he does best–protect, prepare and provide.  There need not be any drama, ceramony or special recognition–only the faith to ask God for our needs and then the faith to trust Him to provide.  Elisha never had a doubt and the widow would never doubt again that God does provide.  We need to have that saame faith and confidence–God will provide, that is simply who He is! Jehovah Jirah.
 
God Bless You

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

2 Kings 2 Part 2–Elisha the Humble Prophet

Elisha was literally heartbroken at the leaving of Elijah.   He saw Elijah go and  was none too pleased to pick up Elijah’s cloak and begin again. But, when he did, The spirit came over Elisha as it had been over Elijah.  He had the power and the spirit to represent God before the people.  Elisha picked up the mantle and immediately started to work.  The city was having problems with their water.  people were dying and miscarriages were happening as a result of the water supply.  Elisha saw the problem and healed the water supply. Once healed, no more death and saddness was caused by the water.  God used His newly appointed prophet to bring joy out of saddness.
 
When we are called by God, the call is rarely in the way or for the purpose that we expect.  If we will pick up the charge and follow God’s lead, there is no telling what can be done.  Our faithfulness and trust in the Lord can do amazing things and change lives.  We simply need to be available to the Lord and folow his lead.  Elisha was a practical prophet.  He was simply going where God led him and doing what God told him to do.  In the wake of that, God was able to do great things.  We never know what God’s call on our lives may mean, we simply need to follow Him and do all  He leads us to do.
 
God Bless You

And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.

Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

Elisha Succeeds Elijah

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 And they said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men. Please let them go and seek your master. It may be that the Spirit of the Lord has caught him up and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.” 17 But when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men. And for three days they sought him but did not find him. 18 And they came back to him while he was staying at Jericho, and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”

19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” 22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.

2 Peter 3–God Is Patient

Peter wraps up his letter to the church by giving the greatest reminder of all. God is not slow, He is patient. To God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. In being ready to be done with this world and these human beings, God has been slow to act. How grateful we should be as a body to know that God does not give up easily. Generation after generation of Christians have lived in societies that have abandoned God and chased sin with abandon. Still in the midst there have been the faithful that have continued to live lives according to their commitment to God, allowing Him to transform them and use them to build the body of faith. 
We would be lost, except that God patiently allowed us to come to know Him and follow him. Imagine in your own lives how many times you would have given up on you! Then realize that our Heavenly Father never leaves us or gives up on us. He leads with His spirit and moves us to be people of purpose, and people that build a legacy that lasts well beyond our meager lives.  We must be as patient with God and His plan as He has been with us. He will do things in His perfect timing, and we will be able to see His fingerprints all over the blessings that fill our lives. In the meanwhile, we must continue to trust in Him and His plan to produce an abundant and purposeful life for us.
God Bless You

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

I Peter 4 Part 2–Live as if There is No Tomorrow

Peter was truly living as if it was the end times. They were difficult years for the new church. Peter wanted the young church to realize that it was not an easy path.  He did want them to know that the eternal road ahead was critical. Peter encouraged the people to focus on the walk and be sober-minded and have expectations for trials. Knowing that Peter’s message is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.
 
Live as if the end is near.  Love people like they will be gone soon. conduct yourself as if it is how you want to be remembered. Leave a good reputation behind.  Show love and grace.  Act with class and character.  Do not be amazed when you suffer as a Christian.  It is the rule, not the exception.  Make sure God is honored in your response to suffering.  It is a journey that requires grace and discipline.  So live as if you expect to meet trials and tribulations and feel blessed and honored that God trusts you enough to go through it. 
 
God Bless You

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Suffering as a Christian

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[c]

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

I Timothy 4 Part 2–Stay Focused on the Mission

Paul reminded Timothy that his time and attention needed to be focused upon ministry–not on his concerns about what others thought.  Timothy was young and was certainly receiving pressure about his youth; as he taught in Ephesus.  This was a church that strong and growing. Paul led the church for some time. So, now as Timothy continued to lead it, many would argue that they deserved better.  Paul was clear–do not fall into that trap. simply focus upon the mission and continue to fight forward leading and training the church and using the spiritual gifts God provides.
 
In the present culture, there are countless obstacles and excuses to take one’s eyes off of the Lord. If our focus strays form ministry and mission, then we can be undermined by criticism from others or even by our own fears and baggage.  Paul reminds us, as he did Timothy, that our focus needs to remain on the Lord, and His mission for our lives. Our perceptions, weaknesses, and fears are his to control. We need simply focus on Him as we move forward.  Paul summed it up well in Colossians 3:1-2, “Set your heart on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things!”
 
We must focus on walking and leading! Then He will use us and we will experience an amazing journey.
 
God Bless You

That is why we labor and strive because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Colossians 1 Part 1–“Christ Plus” Theology

The Church at Colossae was unique in Paul’s writings.  Paul had never visited the city or the church.  The church at Colossae was started by Epaphras, one of Paul’s disciples. The great story of Colossae was that even without Paul’s direct involvement in its growth, the Church was having an impact. Epaphras had been a great friend to Paul and served him while he was in prison. In addition, he was an evangelist and pastor starting this church.   Paul had received the word, however, that the Colossians had been infiltrated by teachers that pushed the Christ plus heresy. Whether it was Christ Plus Judaism, Christ plus ceremonialism or Christ plus other knowledge–Paul was writing to tell the church that Christ was sufficient–no other thing, tradition or knowledge was necessary!
 
It has been and is still hard to accept that when we come to follow Christ, His salvation is a gift and requires nothing more than our acceptance. If there was a plus to Christ’s gift, in short, it would no longer be a gift. Interestingly, that is what makes men chase these false doctrines. Then and now, we simply cannot stand the idea that we cannot achieve salvation on our own.  We want to help. We want to be able to point to what we have done. God says no. To receive salvation, we simply have to trust God and accept the plan that He has offered.  The great news is that Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection opened the door for us to have fellowship with God if we will simply believe.  That does not seem like a bad thing at all!!!
 
God Bless You
 

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.