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I had a few days home from the road and while running some errands found myself at a counter with two registers and both had signs on the counter declaring “Register Closed.” At one the cashier was diligently counting out the drawer to close it for his shift. He didn’t look past the sign at the several customers who were stuck in purchase purgatory. For him we didn’t exist. At the other counter the young lady was counting her drawer and getting set up to start her shift. She too was oblivious to anything beyond the “Register Closed” sign. I can understand why neither cashier wanted to make eye contact with any of us. One was trying to go home and taking “one more” customer could become a never ending proposition. The other cashier needed to make sure everything was accounted for before opening. Management certainly could have done a better job of orchestrating the transition. Other than a minor inconvenience to each of us no harm was done and as a result we will tend to over look this and go back to the store again in the future.

While I stood there it struck me that our nation may soon be hanging a “Register Closed” sign out and then what will happen? After all, they don’t seem to be having a very good track record of addressing the economic problems we as a nation are encountering. Early last year the Bush administration and congress put together a stimulus package which extended unemployment benefits. They also mailed checks to citizens which, it was suggested, would be spent in such a way that it would stimulate the economy. It would be an exaggerated understatement to say it didn’t help. In more recent months the government created a 750 billion dollar “bail out.” A portion was to be used to buy “toxic” home loans and banks were supposed use the rest of the funds to lend to consumers and thereby stimulate the economy. Once this was approved the government decided not to buy the “toxic” mortgages and none in governmental leadership seemed think they needed guidelines as to how the banks should use the money. Instead of being used on lending, extravagant retreats for high level employees and multi-millions dollar “bonus” packages were given. If anything was left it seems to have been squirreled away by the banks. When asked for an accounting as to how the funds were used the institutions which were given the funds didn’t seem to know or refused to say. Of course, the banks would never give loans to those of us who will be saddled with repaying this massive give away in increased taxes based using the same criteria as they themselves are acquiring money. They did such a good job of losing track of the first half of the bailout with no benefit to the nation that the government has decided they deserve second half which is now being released.

The big three auto manufacturers showed up at the register looking for their bailout. They had no plan to show, they were following the example of the bankers. Show up hat in hand and leave with big checks. The mistake they seemed to make was that each one showed up in their own private jet. Publicly flaunting of their elite life style didn’t seem to sit well with Congress and they were sent away to make prepare an actual plan and come back to present the plan. Somehow just giving them 25 billion to divvy up between themselves as they see fit wouldn’t happen but the register is still open. One day it will close and great damage is being done in the mean time. Some economists are talking about hyper-inflation not unlike Germany experienced prior to World War II. I don’t know, I am not an economist and I am not a prophet so I can’t see in to the future. It does seem to me that one day in the not too distant future a bank, business or industry will show up to Congress and see a sigh which reads “Register Closed.”

As inconvenient as it is to wait while one register is closed and another open and has hard as it may be if our current economic woes continue until the register closed sign is put out, they both pale in significance to a yet future event.

The ultimate debt, the debt for sin has been fully paid. The receipt which says paid in full is in the register and those who will accept the forgiveness it secures may receive salvation by simply receiving it. Romans 10:9-13 is clear:

if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

Salvation is paid for and freely given to any who ask but one day the register will be closed and it will be forever too late:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

I can probably do no better than to echo the heart and words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

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