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Making lists is good: God keeps one too

When my wife works on the weekend I make a list of things that I want to get done that day. The list is always way too long to complete in one day. The list does help to keep me on track and I love the feeling I get when I can mark things off. Sometimes if I get something done that isn’t on the list, I will write it down just so I can cross it off.
When we are planning to go away, we make lists of things that need to get done before we go. These help so I know what has to get done so we can get out the door. We also make lists of things we want to remember to take with us on trips, that way we won’t forget anything. Lists have a helpful way of reminding us as we get a little forgetful at times.
Lists and notes are a part of my life because it seems my memory is not as good as it once was. At work and at home, I keep all kinds of notes and lists of things I need to do. Before I go to the grocery store, I always make a list of things to pick up. Sometimes when I get home we realize that I forgot something. My defense is that the item in question was not on the list.
The most important list is the list of names found in the Book of Life. I am afraid that many people do not understand how to get themselves on that list. Many people think that if they do enough good stuff then God will give them a free pass to heaven. People think that if my good stuff outweighs my bad stuff then I get in.
If you do nice things for the poor and needy, yes, God does notice. God always has compassion for the poor and downcast in society. If you do something genuinely out of your heart, He will see your good deeds. But that is not good enough for a trip to heaven. If it were, then the story of Cornelius would not be in the Bible.
Cornelius was a good man who prayed to God and did good things for the poor and needy. One day, he had a vision in which an angel told him to send for a man named Peter. If God gave out free passes for doing good, why would Cornelius need to get Peter to come to his house? There was something missing from his life and God wanted him to discover it.
Cornelius was doing all he knew to do. He prayed and did good deeds, but that does not guarantee a trip to heaven. We can’t earn a trip to heaven. We get to go to heaven because we are in a relationship with God’s son. It is by grace that we are saved. It is a free gift from God, but we have to choose to receive it.
God wants a relationship with every person and he wants everyone to come to heaven. But we have turned what He wanted, a relationship, into a set of rules and taken out the personal connection. God created us so He could have a relationship with us. Since we choose to sin and walk away from Him, He provided a way for us to get back into the relationship He intended. It is not by following a list of rules and doing good; it is simply by receiving the free gift of salvation through His son Jesus.
When Cornelius and his friends heard the good news they immediately opened their hearts to receive the free gift of salvation. God wants us to follow the rules and to do good things for the poor and needy, not in order to win points with God but rather out of love for Him. God is the God of love and relationship, not of rules and fear.
I want to encourage you to consider the foundation of your relationship with God. Is your connection with God built on a relationship of love or are you trying to please a god who makes lists of your good deeds and sins? My God loves me and paid a big price so He could have a relationship with me. I am glad I do not have to earn God’s love. I am motivated by love to do good things for others because I am in a relationship with a loving God.

Doug Creamer teaches Marketing at East Davidson High School. His website is located at www.dougcreamer.com Contact him at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or email doug@dougcreamer.com

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