…"But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!" 2Tim. 2:9
“The word that most adequately describes this age is crisis. Political convulsions, national upheaval, racial unrest, rebellion against the existing order and outright revolution are becoming almost normal. We know that tomorrow’s headlines will probably bring some new crisis to our attention.
Many people are asking, “Where is history heading?” A careful student of the Bible will see that God controls the clock of destiny. Amid the world’s confusion, God’s omnipotent hand moves, working out His unchanging plan and purpose; and the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25).
Jesus Christ is coming to earth again. It is Christ who is in control, and He will determine the outcome. If the Bible is clear on any point, it is this: “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time” (Hebrews 9:28).
What is to be the attitude of the Christian toward the fact of Christ’s coming? One man said to me, “Well, the Lord is coming soon; so what is there to do about anything?”
Such a fatalistic attitude is not the one taught by the Lord Jesus Christ. When He told His disciples of His return to earth, He said, “Do business till I come” (Luke 19:13), and “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing” (Matthew 24:46).
Dwight L. Moody once said, “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. Its ruin is getting nearer and nearer. God said to me, ‘Moody, here’s a lifeboat. Go out and rescue as many as you can before the ship sinks.’” If the end seemed about to come in Moody’s day (he died in 1899), how much closer must we be to the climax of history?
If there was ever a time when we should man the lifeboats and go out and rescue as many as we can, it is now. That is why we proclaim the Gospel in the strategic centers of the world wherever we can.
We believe this is a day of glorious opportunity to proclaim the saving grace and power of Christ, and to declare the Gospel against the opposition of every false ideology.
George Whitefield, the great English evangelist, said, “I am daily waiting for the coming of the Son of God.” But he did not sit down and do nothing. He burned out his life in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
The prophet Daniel lived in a pagan nation and under the worst possible conditions. He knew that God’s judgment was about to come, but he did not fold his hands and wait for it to strike. He opened wide his windows toward Jerusalem and prayed. And he walked with God.
It would not seem that the reign of Ahab and Jezebel in Israel would have been a good setting for the ministry of a great prophet of God. But Elijah walked with God during that dark period, and he used the treachery of cowardly King Ahab and the clever strategy of the evil Queen Jezebel as a backdrop against which to reflect the glory and power of God.
Crisis times are times when Christ should be proclaimed. Although there has never been a worldwide revival, I believe we may be on the verge of one now. The Spirit of God is making His power felt throughout the world. From Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America, from the islands of the sea and from Australia, there are reports of the activity of the Spirit of God. This is a glorious time to be alive.
I have found that people everywhere, all over the world, will respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we present it simply, with Christian compassion.
There are some who are in deep despair. I receive many letters daily from people who are discouraged, depressed and ready to give up. They are yielding to the pessimism of our times, to the mood and spirit of our day. A man in England wrote, “It’s too late to do anything about the world.”
That isn’t true. All is not lost. We still have the Bible, and “the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9). We still have the Holy Spirit. We still have the fellowship of believers. We still have the prayers of God’s people. We still have an open door to most of the world for proclaiming the Gospel.
There is much to be gained. Remember, Jesus said: “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:43).
I would like to give you three keys that will open doors of usefulness and power for you. The first is the key of humility—humility born of honest self-evaluation. It is essential for all people to realize their own weaknesses, sins and failures. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The word for sin here is hamartia; it means “missing the mark, failing, falling short.”
To confess that we are sinners is the most difficult thing for us to do, because we are so proud. We want to feel that we can be good and honorable and decent without any help from God.
But God has declared, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), that means me.
The Bible tells me that I have sinned.
My conscience tells me that I have sinned.
My reason tells me that I have sinned.
Every part of my nature points an accusing finger and cries, “Guilty! Guilty! There is none righteous!”
John Bunyan said, “When I saw John Bunyan as God saw John Bunyan, I did not say I was a sinner; I said that I was sin from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.”
Great prophets were used of God because they were humble. They saw themselves as God saw them and realized the truth about themselves. When you confess with Isaiah, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5), you will stand on the threshold of a victorious life. When you face the fact of your own inadequacy, your own failure, your own sinfulness, you have taken the first step toward gaining a glorious and wonderful personal victory that will carry you through the days of crisis that lie ahead.
The second key is the recognition that God’s standard of a holy life is not attainable by human effort. God is first of all concerned with what you are. What you do is the result of what you are.
There is no way that we by ourselves can generate sanctification. Our sanctification is Christ. There is no way we can be holy. Our holiness is Christ. This caused Paul to write: “not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
The third key is reliance on the Holy Spirit. To paraphrase Galatians 5:16—“Walk by means of the Spirit.” In Romans 8:14 Paul writes: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
You cannot live the Christian life by yourself. The Holy Spirit must live in you and express Himself through you.
Paul said, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11).
Sin shall no longer rule or dominate you when you are allowing the Holy Spirit to live Christ’s life through you. It is living by faith, living by trust, living in dependence upon God.
If we look to our own resources, our own strength or our own ability, as Peter did when he walked on the water, we will fail. During these crisis days, we must remember that many stumble along the road of life. We must rescue as many as we can before catastrophe strikes.
God is at work in the midst of crisis. In the midst of the problems, pessimism and frustrations of our day, God is doing His own work. Let us realize that there are certain things we cannot do. Let us be faithful in the things He has called us to do.
Will you surrender totally to Christ? As you look forward to the day when Christ shall return, be up and about your Father’s business—give of your income, spend time in prayer, be faithful in worship, tell others about Jesus Christ—and you will discover the usefulness, the optimism, the confidence, that belong to God’s children.”
Billy Graham 1962
Believers often find themselves living in contradiction to the world, and we should. The runaway anxiety and constant fear that grips so much of the world does not have the same hold on us—or at least, it shouldn’t. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at anxiety from a biblical perspective, and examining God’s care and provision for His people, and how that should free us from worry.
Today we’re bringing our Attacking Anxiety series to a close with part three of our discussion on Paul’s prayer that we would know and rest in God’s lasting peace and grace. The apostle wrote, “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18).
A final characteristic of God’s peace is that it is not subject to circumstances. Paul’s prayer was that we might continually enjoy it “in every circumstance” (v. 16). This peace is not subject to anything that happens in the worldly realm. It is not built on any human relationship, and it’s not dependent on human feelings, decisions, or situations.
Rather, God’s peace is built on a divine plan and promise from an unfailing God who will secure you in Himself, and who will do everything for your good. This peace is a product of an unchanging divine relationship, and it is unbreakable, unassailable, and transcendent.
As we noted earlier, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He was saying, “There’s nothing to fear or be anxious about because I’m giving you a divine, lasting peace that cannot be fractured or damaged by the world.” We demonstrate that Jesus keeps His promises when, in the midst of worldly upheavals that would normally tear us up and trouble our lives, we remain calm.
Paul’s great desire was that we enjoy that kind of well-being, which is why he prayed toward that end. His parting wish was this: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:18). He wanted every man and woman who would ever put his or her faith in Christ to experience the abiding presence of God’s grace.
Grace is God’s goodness or benevolence given to those who don’t deserve it. “Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). It was in the person of God’s Son that “the grace of God has appeared,” making salvation available to all (Titus 2:11). Once we embrace this saving grace through faith in Christ, we are blessed with God’s grace, enabling us to withstand any difficulty that would tend to make us anxious. Paul described this grace while confessing to a difficulty that brought him great anxiety:
There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. . . . Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians12:7-10)
As believers, we also are blessed with the grace that equips us for divine service. Paul expressed his appreciation for this grace in saying, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy . . . the grace of our Lord was more than abundant” (1 Timothy 1:12-14).
Grace is what enables us to grow spiritually in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). In the material realm, Paul appealed to God’s grace in encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous in giving to the Lord’s work: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
God’s grace saves us, helps us cope with our anxieties, equips us for service, and enables us to grow spiritually and to be rich in God. Like God’s peace, it is always available, and there is no limit to it. And again, like God’s peace, the conditions for receiving it are trusting God, forsaking sin, enduring the refining process, doing good, and living by the Word. As we are what we ought to be, God infuses us with His peace and grace. And that has a wonderful way of crowding out anxiety.
I want to close this series on a personal note. Just a few days after preaching a sermon on the peace and grace God bestows on His people, I had an unprecedented opportunity to apply it to my own life: I was notified that my wife and youngest daughter were in a serious auto accident, and that my wife, Patricia, would probably die. Everything seemed like a blur to me, the details frustratingly sketchy—I was afraid she was already dead. During my hour-long drive to the hospital, I had a lot of time to reflect on the severity of the situation. Yet I experienced a deep and steeled peace simply because I knew God had not failed me—His grace was in complete control.
I am happy to report that God spared both their lives, and that Patricia recovered beautifully. If you too rely on God’s grace, He will see you through the most difficult trials.
We finished our last post with Romans 7:24; “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” That was Paul’s cry out from the frustration he was feeling. In his heart and in his mind he wanted to follow after God, but in his flesh he keep listening to beckoning and calling of the sin that was still present.
You’ve come to Jesus Christ and have asked Him to forgive you and cleanse you from the sin that so easily dominates your thinking and your living. You want to follow after Him with your whole heart, mind, and soul, but there is still that ugly old boss that thinks he can still order us around. You hate him and you don’t want to live under his domain any longer.
Chapter six of Romans talks about us being free from the penalty of our sin. We have been set free, not only from the penalty of our sin, but also over the dominance of sin. It has no more authority over us. We have been redeemed, we have been bought back from sin’s domain and we now belong to Christ. We have been adopted into His family by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We can now say yes to God and no to sin.
“So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11
Now for the first time in our lives we can say no to sin and yes to God! The door has been open and we can freely walk into a relationship with the God who created you and me and this entire universe…but sins influence is still there. The battle lines have been drawn. Who are we going to listen too and who are we going to obey?
That’s the battle that we see in Romans chapter seven. Read and re-read it. See if you don’t see the same battle and the same struggle, going on in your own heart and mind, that Paul is describing in chapter seven.
Then we come to the first verse of Romans chapter eight…“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
No condemnation means no judgement. You and I will never be judged for our sin, that penalty was paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He did it once for all of humanity, and if you have become a member of His family, by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, you are set free from the penalty and judgement of your sin. That’s been established and will never change.
But there is a war going on, and the old man still wants to boss you and I around.
Romans 6:4…”just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.”
How do we overcome this struggle and how do we live the victorious Christian life? By the power of the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Take a look at the apostles. They lived with Jesus, they were taught by Jesus, and they even performed great works for God, while Jesus was still on earth, but that was not enough. Jesus told them that it was important that He go away, and that the Father will send them another comforter.
The Holy Spirit means, one sent alongside to help. Despite the teachings and the things that the apostles had learned, they were not going to be able to do anything until the Holy Spirit would come, and make His dwelling inside each and everyone of them.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The word power used in this verse, is the same Greek word used in Romans 1:4. It’s the word dynamis, which we get our English word, dynamite. The dynamite power of the Holy Spirit, would come upon the apostles and enable them to spread the gospel, or good news of God, throughout all the world. In the book of Acts, Christ’s church was born and it still is alive and spreading the truth of God throughout all the world, by the same power that raised Jesus back to life again.
It’s by this same power of the Holy Spirit, in your life and mine, that we can live the new life that God wants us to live. You and I can’t live the Christian life, only God can live His life in and through you and me today.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
How to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit
1) INVITE: Make sure that you have personally invited Christ to be your Savior. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
2) CONFESS: Confess sin to God and ask for His cleansing.“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John (1John 1:9).
3. YIELD: Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you (empower, control).“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, “be continuously filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 – literal translation). “Holy Spirit, I invite you to take control of my life. I ask you
to be the dominating influence in me. Produce your fruit in me. I can’t do it on my own.” “Holy Spirit, I ask you to empower me to accomplish what is beyond me. Show yourself strong in my life, so that I may bear fruit for God.” “Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray right now. Intercede
through me, Spirit, for you alone know the mind and will of God in this matter.” “Holy Spirit, I need you to help me put to the death the deeds
of the body. I can’t overcome this on my own. Give me the victory today.” “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1Corinthians 6:18).
Only a life lived by the influence, motivation, and power of the Holy Spirit, are we ever going to be walking the victorious Christian life. Which voice are you going to obey? You have a new master and He loves you with a love that no man can understand nor explain. His desire is to live in you and conform you into the image of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Peter 2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow by it.”
John 15:3 “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
“For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. ”
“So then,brothers and sisters,we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear,but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:5-17
Where do you go when things aren’t going your way? Is there a well worn path to your favorite watering hole, or maybe a friend that will allow you to use their shoulder to cry on? Whatever you do or wherever you go, does it bring long lasting comfort and strength to see you through life’s storms?
I’m speaking to those who our children of God, those who claim that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior, and you’ve chosen to walk with Him through this life. If this is you then you need to listen to what I’m about to tell you.
Weather you’ve been in a storm or maybe you’re going through one right now, or maybe every thing is hunky dory for you and life is good, get ready my friend, because the storms will come. Jesus promised that when He said;
This world, and anything in it should never be a haven of rest for us, no matter if things are good or not going so good. Learn to run to your heavenly Father, and not to the things you used run to when you lived in the world.
“Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossions 3:3
Remember we are not a citizen of this world anymore, we belong to Christ and our citizenship is in heaven. We have a new address and we are just passing through this one.
“But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20
Living the Christian life, walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and living a life that is obedient and brings glory and honor to the name of Jesus Christ, is not an easy road.
Jesus gave us this warning, but He also gave us His promise to always be with us and will always give us what we need for this journey or the task at hand, and will never leave us nor forsake us. You and I are never alone.
Have you learned this in your walk with the Lord? Is it something that, through trial and error, you have experienced in your Christian life?
In Jesus earthly life, He learned this, just as we do. He was our example and He paved the way for you and I to walk in “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8
Listen to what Paul said, “Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:29
These words, labor and struggling, don’t sound like very pleasant and easy words. The work that God had called for Paul to do was anything but easy and comfortable.
But don’t forget the rest of that verse…”according to his power that powerfully works in me.” Paul was just the channel for God’s work to be accomplished, just like you and me are today. We are God’s hands and feet in this world. We carry the fragrance of Jesus Christ wherever we go, to a lost and dying world.
“Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” Matthew 11:29-30
Sometimes storms come because we have drifted away from God and He is lovingly and gently trying to bring us back, or it is God preparing us for something that is coming our way. Whatever it is, it’s always for our good and to bring God glory. That’s why we’re here, to bring God glory.
When I was a kid in school, my friend and I got into trouble and we were called down to the principle’s office. That only meant one thing. Back in those days you were allowed to get paddled by teachers and principles, and that’s exactly what happened to us, but I will always remember what my friend said to me when he came out of the office after getting his shot first. He told me, “when he starts, lean into him and it won’t hurt so much.”
My friend, when the storms come into your life, and they will, learn to lean into God, and it won’t hurt as much.
“Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons?
“My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline
or give up when he corrects you.
Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed.” Hebrews 12:3-13
Are you the type of person who is organized and has everything under control? No surprises going catch you off guard…right? You are in good shape and you are just cruising along and life is good. How does that usually work out for you?
I’m that type of person too, but the more I work at getting everything together and lining all my ducks in a row, something unexpected, that I failed to figure in, always comes along. Have you ever experienced anything like that?
I don’t want to talk about things going wrong, I want to talk about being in control and in charge.
As a child of God, Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior, and He is the one who has mastery over my life, my thoughts, and my actions…or does He?
Because I like to be in control and have my life all in order, and I don’t like it when those situations come along and throw everything out of sequence. That makes me upset, angry, and insecure. When that happens, instead of leaning on God and running to Him, I try to do it all on my own.
After all, God made me like this and he gave me this type of character, that’s what He wants me to do…right?
Anything that I put on the alter of my heart, anything that I place there instead of God, is an idol. An idol is worshiping anything other than God.
“So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5
“We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.” Timothy Keller – from his book – “Counterfeit Gods”
Click on the picture of the book and get your copy from Amazon. This is an incredible read and you will be totally surprised at what idols are and how many you worship. You are limited to only one purchase per visit as the printers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand.
Because of my personality, if I had all the money I needed and everything was all nice and neat and in order, I would think, “what an awesome person I am to be so organized, I certainly do such a great job”, and I wouldn’t need to rely on God as much, would I? I might even start worshiping either myself or my great organizational skills. I hope you get my point.
In 1Samuel, Eli the high priest, was judged by God because of the sins of his sons, which he did nothing about. Listen to what God said to him;
“You have honored your sons more than you have me by having made yourselves fat from the best parts of all the offerings of my people Israel”.’ 1Samuel 2:29
His was the job of tending to the offerings and sacrifices, but he honored his sons more then he did God. His sons became his idol.
Remember Jacob tricked Esau into selling him his birthright, but it didn’t mean anything to Esau, he put no value or importance on it, he had other things that he placed on the throne of his heart.
But Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear an oath to me now.” So Esau swore an oath to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Genesis 25:31
If your idol is power and success, humiliation is your greatest nightmare, you use people, and you probably have a problem with anger.
If your idol is the need to have the approval of everyone, your greatest nightmare is rejection, you smother people, and you have an emotional problem with cowardice.
If your idol is control and self-discipline, your greatest nightmare is uncertainty, you make people around you feel condemned, and you have an emotional problem with worry.
These are just a few, there are others, but the point is; idols can hide themselves in a myriad of ways in our lives and they are not always bad in and of themselves, it’s always the way we deal with them and use them.
God has wired and made us to worship, but that worship should be for Him and Him alone. If we put anything else on His throne, we are worshiping an idol.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen”. Romans 1:18-25
Imagine if we lived in a world where people didn’t lie to one another because the reasons for lying were all removed. Imagine no more manipulating the truth so that I could put myself in the best position to win. Imagine people actually stopping to help one another out, no matter what the situation, and never requiring a payment for their services. Imagine people looking for opportunities to do good and not to hurt or malign someone else. Imagine no more criticism or personal attacks.
Sounds like a dream or a fairy tale right, but this kind of world does exist and it will be coming to where you and I live some day soon in the future. I don’t care how much you buff and shine this world that we live in today, it is on its way out and God is preparing for a new one to take its place.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven of God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
If you’re putting all your hope in this world and in this life, and what you think you will get out from it, even as a child of God, you hope is definitely misplaced.
“If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitied.” Corinthians 15:19
There is a hope that the child of God has that cannot be applied to anyone else. You and I have an eternal hope that rests on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That has been confirmed and established forever by the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:3-4
Don’t rest your hope in a job or a business, or circumstances, these are all things that are going to pass away, rest your hope in the eternal facts and evidences that God has given you. Our hope and faith isn’t a leap in the dark, as some would call it, it rests on the facts and evidences that God has given to us in His Word.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you.” 1Peter 1:3-4
Our hope is a living hope! It’s based on a the living Lord Jesus Christ. He is not dead, but alive and watching and orchestrating everything toward the end that He has planned, not what politicians or governments or terrorist organizations are planning.
“Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, being sure of things we do not see” Hebrews 11:1
There is a new world coming that is going to be full of God’s grace and truth, and God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4) The door is open for anyone who wants to come in but it won’t be opened forever. Are you in? Where is your hope and what are you looking for?
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf,” Hebrews 6:19
An anchor is only as strong as what it’s anchored too. Massive ships have extremely large anchors that hold these ships still, but it doesn’t matter how big the anchor is, it’s what it’s anchored too. If that anchor is hooked on a small rock and that rock moves and gives way, the whole ship will be adrift.
What are you anchored too? What is your hope in? Anchor your soul into Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of the faith. He is unmovable, steadfast and sure.
Only God can give grace and truth and He wants to pour it into your life now, and the one to come. He is preparing a place for you, so you and I will be with Him forever.
“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be also.” John 14:2-3
This is where your hope should be, and this is where your anchor should be hooked too. We should be telling others of this great hope that we have, so that they too my enter into that blessed hope.
“Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works. Titus 2:13-14
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35
I was watching a very popular show the other day, that is on network television, in the morning. There are four doctors on the program and each one of them represent a different area of the medical field.
One doctor is female, one from the male side of medicine, one a children’s doctor, and one is a plastic surgeon, or cosmetic surgeon. I think the word plastic surgeon is more appropriate, because that’s what they do, they inject and insert plastic in bodies to make them look younger, hotter, and sexier.
I see this as a very big problem, especially with the women in our world today.
The world breeds discontentment with ourselves, and actually with the God who made us, because it’s good marketing for the products and services that they sell and it makes them a lot of money. To the tune of almost 40 billion dollars a year.
After a women goes through the process of having children, or just the normal process of aging, everyone’s body changes. The world holds that, don’t you want to stay young and sexy for as long as you can, carrot out in front of people, and they run after it as fast as they can.
The majority of people that fall prey to this marketing machine are women but there are also men that go this route as well.
The under-laying factor in all these people is discontentment with themselves and their marriages and other relationships. They are insecure people that don’t want to be out of the loop. They want to be with the in crowd and they want to be the center of the action. Truth and reality are things that they struggle with.
My wife worked for a real estate company and her boss was a millionaire. They had money, two beautiful children, a successful business, but she was not happy with herself and there were some cracks starting up in their marriage. She wanted breast implants.
This lady is a beautiful women and in my opinion, didn’t need these surgeries, but she went and not only had the breast implants, but also the lip injections. My big question is why is she doing this?
Now everyone will say, it’s for me, or I want to look good for my husband, but is it really? With discontentment, comes the allurement of other eyes and the attention from other sources, that these surgeries will bring. If you are not content with yourself or your marriage, you can be sure, the world will bring some new sources to your door.
I’m not saying that these are things that will happen, but there are natural tendencies that human nature will follow, and you need to be aware of them and how they work or you will fall prey to them and just become another statistic.
I am a Christian, I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and these are situations that every child of God should be aware of. If you are only getting fed from TV and what the world and magazines are saying about you, and how you should look and feel, and your mind and heart are being molded by what they all have to say, you are on the wrong road. You will fall victim to them, not if, but when it happens.
Start finding out what the One who made you has to say about you. Find out why He wired you the way He did. There is a reason why He put you together the way He did. He wants to use you for His purposes and bless you beyond anything that you can think or imagine.
The world says it can change you and make you happy, but God says He wants to give you real contentment and real joy in living. He will give you life and give it to you to the fullest measure. Run to Him, and not to the imaginary mirror that the world holds up for you to see yourself in.
Love is the greatest power in the universe, and it can also be the most powerful tool, when withheld from someone. Nothing can do more harm and cause more devastation then the power of love.
Loved? Loved. is my 2 word story. For those of you who don’t know what I mean by a 2 word story, I will explain.
On April 16, 2011, the EACH program was set into gear, with the Prayer Walk that was held in downtown Detroit Michigan. 25,000 people from about 500 churches, of all denominations, met in solidarity to pray for the city and pledge one million hours of community service to help those in need and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
EACH stands for Everyone a Chance to Hear. Hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and part of this program is to come up with your story in just two words. You wear your two words on a t-shirt, button, or a hat, and pray as God will open the doors for people to ask you what those two words means on your shirt, and then you have the invitation to tell them your story of how you met Jesus Christ.
Loved? I was not, as a boy growing up. I was small and not very big, very shy and not assertive at all. I grew up in a home of verbal abuse. I was always told that I couldn’t do anything and that I would just grow up to be a garbage man. If I ever did want to try something, I was told I couldn’t do it because I was to small, or I would break it, or some other reason that my parents had in their arsenal of negative statements.
Words can kill, and I never was involved in any physical abuse, so I don’t know what that’s all about, but I do know that words can hurt and the scares can linger for a life time.
My view of God was some big guy in the heavens just waiting for me to slip up, and he couldn’t wait to bring the hammer down on top of my head. He loved punishment and judgment, and since I couldn’t do anything right, He was having a fun time with me.
Well, needless to say, these things all turned me into other avenues to find validation and love, and they were all the wrong ones. Drugs, alcohol, and women got me in a whole lot of trouble, and there were times, when I look back today, that I should have been dead. I used everyone and I hurt a lot of people.
When I was ten yeas old, I gave my life over to Jesus Christ, while watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. My mother would always watch him and so we did as well. Something that he said just resonated with me and I got down on my knees before I went to bed, and asked God to come into my life and change me. I meant it with all my heart.
They sent me a copy of the gospel of John and I remember going through it but I don’t think I read it all the way . I never told anyone what I did, and because we were catholic, I never had anyone to talk to about it.
Years later after I was married and my wife was expecting our first son, something happened.
I was working the night shift at one of the big three, and one of my party buddies, was going to day shift. He was my best friend and after being on the day shift for one year, he got bumped back to nights. Well I couldn’t wait for me and him to get back to our party ways.
While he was gone , we used to go all the way up the stairs, to the top of the roof of the building, (a staircase that was only used by the skilled trade guys), to get high. But someone, we didn’t know who, had put a picture of Jesus up there, and we used to use that picture as our code word. When we wanted to get high, we would go up to a guy and say, ” Do you want to go and see the Lord at lunch time?” He would know exactly what we meant.
Well when I say my friend after a year, I took him up to see the Lord. I figured we would start our reunion in the right way. Well, he had other plans.
He told me that he had become a follower of Jesus Christ and that he had put the picture of Jesus up because that’s where him and his other Christians friends, from day shift, would go and have their bible study every day.
He told me all about Jesus dying on a cross to save me from my sins and that He really loved me, and would come into my life and change me.
I got down on my knees again and asked God to come into my life. My friend gave me a bible and I still have that bible sitting in my office.
I think God used my friend to complete what He used Billy Graham to start years before.
I learned that God wasn’t waiting for me to mess up so He could punish me. He punished His son so that I could live. He loved me that much to pay that kind of price, just so I could be free. Nobody has ever loved me like that, and nobody ever can. Only God can do that.
Loved? was the word that I carried around my neck for some twenty years of my life. Now I have replaced it with a new word. Loved. He really does love me and loves me like no one else ever can. Circumstances can change, people can change, and events can change, but His love for me and you will never change.
At His last meal with twelve of His closet friends, right before He went to the cross, He said this to them;
“No one has greater love than this — that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends” John 15: 13-14
What’s your 2 word story? Do you have a 2 word story?
Someone asked me, “what is faith?” I think a lot of people ask that question, and I know that I’ve had that question myself, off and on during my Christian life. What do we mean when we say, “we have faith?”
Well we all have faith, but in different things. We have faith when we get into an airplane, we have faith when we get behind the wheel of an automobile, and we have faith when we sit into a chair, that the chair will hold us up and it won’t collapse on us. (I’ve had that happen, by the way.) This is faith that all of us carry every single day of our lives.
We need faith to live, and we need faith to live eternally with God. It’s how our walk with God is initiated. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
Is it just a leap in the dark, like so many say today? Is it just an, “I hope so”, or “I think this is the way”, statement? Not at all. God gave you a brain, use it. He doesn’t want you to check your brain at the door.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Now there are not to many things in this world today, that you can be sure of and not to many things that you can be convinced of, but God says you can be of Him.
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews is the faith chapter. It goes through all of these people in the bible and talks about the faith that they had in God and what He said. You see, this is not about the great faith these people had, but it’s about the faith they had in a great God. The subject is God, and faith is the vehicle that God uses to work in our lives.
Faith in God is simply believing God is who He said He is and believing what He said. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:6
Now that is going to take some knowledge and study to get to know Him, because how can you believe and trust what someone says if you don’t know them. That would be a leap in the dark. Would you get married to someone you just met? No, although some people do, and end up in divorce court before the year is out.
If you have stepped into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and you believe He took the penalty for yours sins on the cross, and you know enough about Him to trust Him with your eternal destiny, than why don’t you move further along in this relationship and really get to know Him so deeply and personal, that His thoughts will be your thoughts and His concerns will be your concerns.
Now I’m not talking about a robot mentality, that’s not what it is at all. Take someone who has been married for fifty, sixty, or even seventy years, they just have to look at each other and they can tell what that person is feeling, simply by a touch or a look. Wouldn’t it be so nice to know God that well. You can!
Let’s just read one example of faith from Hebrews chapter 11. Abraham.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He had received the promises, yet he was ready to offer up his only son. God had told him, “Through Isaac descendants will carry on your name,” and he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there.” Hebrews 11: 17-19.
God tested Abraham’s faith in Him. (read Job 23:10, James 1:2-3, 1Peter 1:6-8). Abraham knew that God promised His seed would come through Isaac. Abraham had waited a very long time for the birth of Isaac, and now God is telling Abraham to offer Isaac on the alter. That went against everything that God said and everything that God was to Abraham, because Abraham knew God very well.
So when God asked Abraham to offer up Isaac, he didn’t flinch one single bit. It says, “he reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead“. Notice that he reasoned. He didn’t leave his brain at the door. Abraham reasons to himself, “well God said Isaac is the one, I’ve been waiting a long time for him, he just wouldn’t take him away after He promised…I guess He will just raise Isaac back from the dead.”
For all intense and purposes, Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac on the alter, so God’s word says he basically did receive him back from the dead. You can read the whole story in Genesis chapter 22.
That’s faith my friend. Do you think Abraham could have expressed such a strong faith in someone that he really didn’t know that well? To many of the people who are in our churches today, have met Jesus Christ, but they don’t know Jesus Christ.
There were many others who didn’t receive the end reward of their faith, but it didn’t diminish it at all. They still went to some horrible deaths believing God all the way. “But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life.” Hebrews 11: 35 It goes on to say that the world is not worthy of them.
Where is your faith today? Do you know Him? I mean, do you really know Him? Are you looking forward to seeing Him when you exit this world as if you were going to be reunited with a very good friend that you haven’t seen in a very long time.
That’s how He wants you to know Him. You can by taking time every single day in His word. He wants to talk to you, and He wants to hear from you today.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day.” 2Peter 3:18
Saturday, April 16, 2011, will be a day that the 25,000 people, who braved the rain and cold temperatures, pray will live on for years to come.
The first of its kind, prayer walk, was held at Comerica Park in Detroit Michigan. Thousands of Christians came together to pray for their city, it’s leaders, and also to pledge a million hours of service to their communities.
This all started about two years ago and grew into the E.A.C.H. program. E.A.C.H. stands for; Everyone A Chance to Hear. To hear what you might ask? To hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
500 churches, from all denominations, came together in this massive event. There were singers and lots of umbrellas, but most of all, there was the hope and the hearts of thousands of people calling for God to move His mighty hand on this ravaged city of Detroit.
The news media came from all over the country. CNN, MSNBC, and national reporters came from every where to cover this event.
There has not been any kind of event like this since the days of Billy Graham and his crusades that covered all the major cities of America with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The EACH program will be a bit different. Instead of using one man, the entire body of Jesus Christ, His church, is being called on to go out and share the gospel of Christ in word and more importantly, in deed. One million hours of service to communities all over southeastern Michigan. Showing the love of God in the things we do and say to people. Going out of our ways to help out those who are in need with the things that we have.
Easter will kick off a one year program of service by the church and followers of Jesus Christ.
There are billboards, all over the city highways, that have just have one word on them, and after Easter, they will be replaced with two words. The two word story is coming April 24, 2011.
Everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ has a story. It’s His story and how it has changed people from the inside out. My two word story is; Loved? – Loved. Go to the 2 word story link on April 24, 2011, and read more.
There were extra police officers that were working that day because of the crowd, but all they were doing was shaken hands and having pictures taken with the prayer walkers, and walkers thanking them for all their hard work that they do in laying their lives down for the people of the city of Detroit. They were dumb founded and didn’t know what to say with all the accolades that were being heaped upon them.
As I watched all this and taking all of it in, I thought…what would it be like if our whole city was like this? What would it be like if our whole state of Michigan were filled with people like this? What would it be like if our whole nation was filled with people of this nature?
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, help get His story out in your town and in your city or state. That’s why we are here!
“Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20
What if you were visiting Niagara Falls, and you saw a canoe with three or four of your family members, and they were just floating down the river, having a great time. Unfortunately the river emptied into the huge drop of the Falls, and if they continued on this route, it would surely end in their deaths, and they had no clue where they were headed… what would you do?
That may not be happening literally, but it is happening spiritually all around us.
Everyday we encounter hundreds and maybe even thousands of lives, people we see at the store, our place of work, our neighborhoods, and our friends. Thousands of people who don’t know Jesus Christ. Thousands of people who our in the canoe of life, and heading for the falls, and don’t realize anything is wrong.
Do you care? Our you remotely interested that others are on their way to death and total separation from God for the rest of eternity?
If you are a child of God, you should care and you should be interested because that’s why Jesus Christ came to this world over two thousand years ago.
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
God is on a search and rescue mission. He has lost something and He wants it back, and He has chosen you and me as His ministers of this mission.
God was the first missionary Himself. Go back to the book of beginnings, the book of Genesis, after Satan, through his craftiness and lies, stole the bride of Christ away, and you find Him walking and looking for His bride.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the orchard.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
God was the first missionary, and He has been on a search and rescue mission ever since. He has been looking for His lost sheep and calling them back home. This is the theme all through the bible and if you don’t get this down, you will struggle understanding the rest of God’s word.
There is an incredible program going on in Detroit Michigan, called E.A.C.H. – everyone a chance to here. To here what? To here the good news of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and this program is growing rapidly. I would not be surprised if this spreads to our entire nation.
There are almost 500 hundred churches involved, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and non-denominational churches, all with the same desire and effort…to get out God’s good news to mankind.
Ladies and gentleman, there is only One church, and that’s the church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Jesus Christ, that God the Father made for His son. Satan stole her away, and God wants her back. He paid the price for her redemption…the door is open and God is calling an army of witnesses to get the word out. The only reason there are divisions in His Church, is because of you and me, not God.
“I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18
There is a time line that EACH is following and it starts with Easter. A prayer walk in downtown Detroit, and there is expected to be around 30,000 people there, maybe even more, and then the army of God is going to go out into the world and spread the good news by doing good.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
My friend is a missionary to Africa, and most of the people in his area are Muslim. He is a carpenter by trade and is building a school in Ghana. One of the Muslim villagers is working with him, and my friend and him decided to fix all the fences in the village.
While they were doing that, one of the Muslim Imam’s was watching them. He watched as they fixed the fences without being asked and without asking for nothing in return.
The Muslim Imam approached him and asked him, “are you a Christian?” He replied, “yes I am.” The Imam declared, “you are different from the others.”
You see, they have seen other people who have called themselves Christians, and they lied and cheated and have brought the name of Christ down.
It’s not by what you say, but by what you do that others will know you belong to Christ. Demonstrating His love and compassion to the world, through the actions we take, will demonstrate who we really belong too, and it’s the best way to spread the good news.
“So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’24 will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
” Matthew 7:20-21
That’s what EACH is all about. Demonstrating with your life and then give an answer of the hope that is within you, when someone asks.
What are you doing? Who will be in heaven because of what they saw in you or what you demonstrated in your life, or by what you said.
This is God’s program and we are just His tools. What kind of tool are you.
Through the years since the life of Jesus Christ on this earth, the gospel, or good news of God, has changed and evolved into different guides and peramiters that we have put it in.
Simply believe on Jesus and His shed blood on the cross, and you’re saved. Nothing more. It’s nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all true, but A man’s professed faith may be nothing more than mental assent to a well-known fact. Such intellectual agreement involves no commitment of the person, and does not produce a transformed life. It is not enough to believe in the existence of God. True, this is essential, but it is not sufficient. Even the demons believe in the existence of God and they shudder at the thought of their eventual punishment by Him. (James 2:19)
The word believe carries with it much more than just an intellectual accent to this existence of God. I think our human nature is always willing to give just what I have to to get by and no more.
Look at all the failed marriages in America today. People that believed and vowed their alligence to one person, until death due they part, but when life starts to crash against us, and spill it’s waves inside our boats, we look for the first way out. Where is our love and commitment when these storms arise?
There was the rich young ruler who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the commandments, and he replied that he wholeheartedly has kept all of them. He had kept the law, the rules and regulations that the law required, he had done just enough, but what was Jesus reply?
“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy.” Luke 18:22-23
Jesus told him that he still lacked something, and that was a real commitment from the heart, and he couldn’t do that because his money was filling that empty spot in his heart. Jesus said get rid of that money and I will fill that empty place in your heart with Me.
Jesus knew what he was thinking and told him, ” don’t worry because you will have treasure in heaven.” Sadly the rich young ruler couldn’t make a real commitment. He turned and walked away.
I’ll bet that rich young ruler looked real good in church on Sunday. Probably was the head of a men’s bible study, maybe even an elder in his church, and even helped people out with his money, but where was his heart really?
There is the story of the lawyer in Luke 10:25-37, who asks the same question of Jesus and this time Jesus goes further with His answer with a story of His own, about the good Samaritan. It is more then just doing what you have to do to get by, if you aren’t willing to live it, then you haven’t made a real commitment.
Peter also made such a commitment to Jesus. After Jesus told them of His death and how they would all scatter and leave Him alone., Peter turned to Jesus and vowed that even if everyone else ran off, he would never leave, as a matter of fact, he would even give his life for Jesus.
Peter meant what he said and Jesus knew that, and Peter’s life proved it, but he had it all wrong, it was Jesus who would lay His life down for him. Peter’s heart was in the right place, but Jesus knew that he was still going to have to go through more training. Remember what Jesus told him;
Luke 22:31 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” Satan wanted to get at Peter because he was a leader and his heart was 100% sold out to Jesus.
Jesus never taught easy believism. Whether He was telling the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and follow Him or telling a crowd of people, who were only looking for the next miracle, that to do the work of God was to believe on Him, (John 6:28-29), He called for people to abandon their own agenda and trust Him radically. Radical trust calls for both believing and acting upon that belief.
Love is believing and committing, and always followed with action. Any other way is not real.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matt. 16:24-25
Ah, the Christmas season. I love this time of year. My favorite time of year. I don’t know what it is but have you noticed that this time of year always invokes different modes and feelings in people. It always seems to bring out the best in people, even if it’s only one time of the year. They’re more charitable, giving and helpful. More people are willing to open up the pocketbook and help out in things that they normally wouldn’t do any other time of the year. I guess that’s one reason why I love Christmas so much.
But why are people so bright cheerful, and giving at this time of year? Why right now? Our economy is not doing well. and people are struggling to make ends meet. It’s just a tough time to be in the giving mood.
I saw a Christmas special the other night, and it was a special rebroadcast of “The Walton’s”. Remember that program? They had all the cast members, much older of course, and they were talking about making and doing the scenes from that special.
The time was during World War ll, and the Walton’s had kind of adopted these two young British kids, who had been separated from their parents during the bombing by the Germans. They were staying with them for awhile, and it showed all the adjusting and making do with what they had, while they were there. The one thing that really grabbed me, was how they didn’t hardly have anything, but they always had something to give to someone else, who had none. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Giving and sharing with those that don’t have anything?
I don’t know if your grand-parents or aunts and uncles, who lived during the great depression, are still around, but you might find it very interesting to ask them to recall some of those times. Maybe share some of their stories with you at this Christmas time.
Those people really struggled financially. Many of them had to move in with other family members and everybody did their part. My wife and I had one of our children and their kids, move in with us for awhile. It was not easy and their big adjustments that had to be taken by all, but we did it to help each other out. Many people are having to do that today.
You see, when times get tough, the tough get going. Something magical happens. You can either go one of two ways. You either sink or swim, but everybody has to be on the same page. Coming together is the only way anyone will make it, and it is a time when you will learn a lot about yourself. All the talk won’t be worth a hill of beans, it’s the actions that will show what your really made of.
It wasn’t just about meeting the physical needs of everyone, there were also feelings and emotions that were riding very high. Imagine having ten to twelve people living in a three bedroom house. Tight quarters and no place to go where you could be by yourself. Everyone had to carry around a lot more patience, understanding, and compassion. You had to learn that your needs were not always going to be first. Could we learn some of that today, and you know, we maybe heading for that again.
It’s easy to be benevolent when I just have to do it for three or four weeks out of the year, but lets see how I do for the next three or four years. We just may be heading for that, and some people are already there now.
Maybe we can learn something more this Christmas then just having a little bit more Christmas cheer. I mean do I really need five TV’s in my house? Is it really all that important for me to get the new IPad, when I already have two computers? There are people living on the street that don’t know where their next meal will come from. Their children are cold and hungry. These are not drunks or drug addicts, they are people with college educations, that had very good jobs and made a very good living. It’s all gone now. Can I give up something so I can help them?
There is a reason that Christmas is spelled with a capital C. It stands for Christ. His name is part of the word Christmas. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. He had nothing. No job, no home, no gold and silver, no IPad’s that He could sell and give, all He had was a perfect sinless life to offer for your ransom and mine.
You see, the reason you and I will taste death, is because of our sin. The penalty for that sin, is death. All of humanity was plunged into Satan’s prison, because of the disobedience of our parents, Adam and Eve, that’s why only a perfect unblemished life could be offered as a payment for our ransom.
One thing that Satan never thought would happen, is that God Himself, would come down to this murky sin filled planet, and pay that ransom, and win our freedom back from Satan.
God came down to this earth in the form of a man, and that man’s name was Jesus Christ, who’s birth we celebrate on Christmas. Maybe that’s why people do good around Christmas because God initiated it by the giving of Himself for you and me.
I don’t care what religion you are, how or even if you celebrate Christmas, weather you say, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”, it doesn’t change the facts of the real story of Christmas. It’s not about a little baby in a manger, but a risen savior, who opened the way to God for you and me. All we have to do…is walk in it.
That’s why Christmas is spelled with a capital C.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever should believe in Him, would not perish, but have ever-lasting life.” John 3:16
“He has book sense, but he doesn’t have common sense.” How many of you have heard that said before? I’ve had people say that about me before, and to my shame, sometimes that has been true. This refers to people whose expertise may appear to be vast and impressive, but it’s not really useful. They are well informed in theory, but they are fools in practice.
There are many people in our churches today who are book smart when it comes to the Bible, but no application when it comes to practice. They know the truth of God’s word but their is no root or transformation in their lives. They can give you all the right answers but that truth has never penetrated their hearts or brought about real faith and repentance.
That does not mean that the truth of God’s word is ineffective . It doesn’t mean that the truth of God’s Word always will secure a sanctifying and positive result. When Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt back in the book of Exodus, Pharaoh was continually confronted with the truth of God and he continually hardened his heart toward that truth. The same sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay.
In James chapters one and two talk about “faith without works is dead.” You don’t have to reject the truth to be become hardened to it. To those who hear God’s Word and don’t do it, actually become desensitized and hardened by hearing it rather than renewed and edified.
Many people have met Jesus Christ, but not many know Jesus Christ. No amount of theology or study of God’s Word can take the place of real repentance and living faith. These are the vital marks of a right relationship with God.
Many of the worlds Bible scholars see the Bible as only as an ancient piece of literature. They have a tremendous knowledge of the Bible but their hearts remain cold and unmoved by the truth.
Every Sunday churches are filled with people who have this same view. Many of them grew up in the church. They are very familiar with the truth and the Bible stories. they may not be completely cold to biblical truth, but they haven’t fully obeyed it yet either.
Many of them lead bible studies and write about it, but to them, the Bible is no more than a hobby, and they never really submit to it’s authority. Others only think about the bible on Sundays. Most of the time it sits on the corner or on a shelf, and the only time it is ever opened is in a special time of need, and then put back to collect more dust.
Knowing about God is simply not enough. Taking in all the facts apart from a true faith and repentance is no better than what James 2:19 describes about the demons. They believe and know that God exists, but they’re not going to heaven or have any kind of relationship with God at all.
To know about God is still a very important part of knowing Him. There are those who through their upbringing or bits and pieces of the bible, have put together a god of their own making. Their concept of God is just a figment of their own imagination. Many of these people are very active members of our churches today.
Some will chose a more favorable attribute of God and camp on it to the exclusion of everything else He has revealed about Himself in His Word. For example, “God is love”. If your theology starts and stops right there, you are worshiping a false god. There is so much more that you need to know about who God is; His nature and character. You just can’t cherry pick the truth.
Bottom line is, what you know about God and what you do with that knowledge touches every facet of your life.
“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
I want to just share what I’ve been learning in the past year. My life was always in conflict from what I knew the Bible said and the reality of my life.
Jesus said His burden is easy and yoke is light. That certainly wasn’t a picture of my Christian Life. The biggest frustration with my Christian life is that it wasn’t any different than that of a non-believer, “gutting out” my Christian walk. Kind of God helps those who help themselves. I was living a powerless life trying to “live the Christian life.”
I was under the belief that I had to do something to gain God’s favor ( to get Him to listen to me) Go to church more, pray more, read my Bible more, blah, blah blah!
Here is the TRUTH about our relationship with Him:
My Christian life was like someone buying me a first class ticket on a luxury liner with all the amenities and I’m down in steerage living on soda crackers.
Now when I fall short I say, thank you Jesus for your perfect sacrifice. I realize I can’t out sin God’s Grace! He will never leave me or forsake me. Never, never, never, never!
Not only has he forgiven my sin but has given me a clear conscience before Him. My walk now is practicing who I am and entering into His rest, That is what growing in grace is all about.
My life is now living and doing out of a thankful heart for what He has done for me. I appreciate his deep unexplainable love for me. That is what motivates me to appropriate His power in my life. Every time Satan brings up my past I say, I am perfect in Him the One who paid my price for my sin (past – present – future) So when the accuser uses my past to try to discourage me I just thank God that have His righteousness forever!! I am perfect before God, always!
Yes, I take advantage and abuse God’s grace every day. Should I say I can sin and do what ever I want with my life? No, when I realize what He has done for me it motivates me to move closer to Him and His will.
Falling from grace is when we substitute God’s grace and substituting “doing something” to earn His favor. My heart is established by His Grace!!! We were taught that sinning causes us to fall from His grace. (Blasphemy!)
Forgive my ramblings but let me ask you a few questions.
Here’s what my prayers are like these days. Lord, You said it, I didn’t, I’m not making this up.
Do you see the change in the focus away from me to Him? That’s where He wants it!
I could go on and on but hopefully this addresses what I wanted to share.
” But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
I remember when my boys were small, and I would stand in the pool and hold my arms out, while they were standing on the side, and I would say, “jump”. They would reluctantly look at me, and hesitate….think for awhile and move closer to the edge. I often thought, “what was really going on in those little minds? Did they really think that their Father would let them fall in the water and drown? Don’t they trust me?”
I’ve often thought about that when I face a new challenge or crisis in my own life. What must my heavenly Father think about me? He knows what I’m really thinking about. He knows if I truly trust Him all the way or if I am a little hesitant. Do I step a little closer to Him and than turn back and go my own way?
I think of the verse in the book of Job. After Job had been through some real rough times, Job said of God, ” He knows the way that I take, after He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) God knows where you are today my friend. He knows what you are going through and He is right there at your side as you go through it. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) Remember, He will not permit you to go through more than you can handle. (1Cor. 10:13)
Who do you trust? How is trust built? I remember J. Vernon McGee telling the story of a bridge that was being built in the small town where he lived. After the bridge was completed, the engineers drove huge trucks and heavy equipment across the bridge, and someone asked why they did that? Did they think it might collapse? They said absolutely not. They were proving that it wouldn’t.
Jesus asked His disciples, ” Who do men say that I am? They answered, some say you are Elijah and some say John the baptist. He asked them, Who do you say that I am, and Peter stood and answered, You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” (Mark 8:27-29)
It was from the experience of knowing and living and walking with Jesus, that Peter could say, ” You are the Christ the son of the living God.” They could not say that at the beginning.
You and I must also walk and live and commune with the living God on a daily basis. Learning and knowing more and more through the experiences we face with Him, will enable us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is the Christ, the son of the living God.
He takes us through trials and testings so that we might know, not believe, but know that He is there and that He loves us and will always take us through. We learn this from our trials and difficulties in this life.
Read (Colossians 1:9-12). The word that is used for knowledge in verse 9 means to know something from experience. Knowledge that comes from a deep intimate relationship. When you and I can gain that kind of a trust and bond with our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, we will learn trust and faith in Him because we’ve tested the bridge, and it holds us up.
How about today? God is holding out His arms to you, and He’s saying, ” come on and jump. I’ll catch you. I won’t let nothing happen to you.” Where are you? Are you standing around the edge deciding if you should go or are you going the other way? Do you trust Him? Do you really believe what He says?
Peter said at the end of his life, ” But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (2Peter 3:18) Peter could say this from experience. He knew.
May God bless you.
The other night was a very emotionally draining and fearful evening to say the least for me and my family.
My wife and I were coming home from a nice meal that we enjoyed together, when she received a call from my sister-in-law. She was crying so hard that my wife had a hard time understanding what she was saying, but it was obvious that something was very wrong.
My nephew had just stormed out of their house. He said he was leaving. He had packed some things in a bag and ran out the door. Words were exchanged, and he was gone.
My brother was getting ready to go to work, when he noticed that his handgun was missing. (My brother is in law enforcement) He looked frantically for the weapon, but was unable to locate it any where. He asked his wife if she had seen it. She said no….. They both stopped and looked at each other….You don’t think….Yes….Paul had taken the weapon with him.
Paul had just graduated from college. He has an engineering degree. He is a very handsome young man. Out going and into many different organizations that reach out into the community to help those who are less fortunate than him. Cancer, teens against suicide, just to name a few. “He had everything going for him.” How many times have you heard that one before?
One thing happened to him that would rock his entire world. The girl that he had dated for four years, and whom he wanted to marry, left him for another guy. This just happened about two months prior to this.
Paul kept all this inside. No one knew he was planning to ask this girl to marry him. He had a ring all in place. Although his parents were never on the same page as he was concerning his relationship with this girl, he wasn’t going to let their views stop him from going forward and asking for her hand in marriage. She ended all that when she walked out of the relationship.
My sister-in-law said he was acting a little strange. Not talking to anyone. Staying in his room. But he is a reserved person when things are on his mind. His girl friend was very much on his mind at this moment. Because his parents really didn’t like her, they saw this as a good thing, but Paul saw it totally different.
My wife and I rushed over to their house. We prayed together and consoled with them as the hours ticked by.
Right after we had prayed with them, a neighbor lady came done the street and dropped off a note with the story of the prodigal son. It is not unusual for her to do this. She does this often, but she didn’t know what was going on. She never knocked on the door, she just dropped the note on the porch and left. I don’t know if you know the story, but in the end, the son comes home.
That gave us a little bit of hope. Were you telling us God through this lady, that Paul would be coming home?
Frantically everyone was leaving messages on Paul phone. “Where are you”, they were asking. “Please come home.” ” We love you”, but there was never no connections made.
Finally an email message sent to his sister….. It said that he had his life all planned out. Get a good job. Marry the women that he loved. Instead he was looking at thousands of dollars in student loans. No job, and especially the girl that would put everything together was gone forever. But the hardest thing of all was the fact that his parents never thought to ask him how he was doing. Because he wasn’t doing well at all. He was distraught. He hadn’t eaten in days. He wasn’t talking to no one. Staying locked up in his room, and nobody cared. Paul was definitely at a crossroad. Now what do I do?
What is my life? At the end of the message, he said he decided to end it all. He was going to take his life with the weapon that he had taken from his father’s desk. He said his good-byes and his love, and then silence. The whole house was silent with the exception of the wales of morning coming from people.
I said in my heart to God, this can’t end like this. This young man doesn’t know you Lord. I grabbed my wife and we went into the bathroom together where we would not be disturbed. We both held each other and we cried out to God. “Lord, don’t let this happen. Let this all work out to Paul coming to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and savor.” Save him from what Satan is trying to do.”
My brother was using all his law enforcement connections to find his son. Ten minutes after my wife and I prayed we got the word that Paul was found at a Holiday Inn. He had checked into a room and was within minutes of taking his life with his fathers gun when the police arrived. God heard and answered our prayer.
Today Paul is under going treatment for his depression and will be released soon from the hospital.
“If you, O LORD, were to keep track of sins,
O Lord, who could stand before you?
But you are willing to forgive,
so that you might be honored.” Psalm 130:3-4
For years the rock served as a doorstop on John Reed’s North Carolina farm. The old Hessian farmer’s son Conrad found the seventeen pound rock in the creek bed but no one thought much of it. It wasn’t until 1802 that a Fayetteville jeweler examined it and then offered $3.50 to the farmer for the stone. John sold it for that price but in the days that followed it was revealed that the yellowish rock was seventeen pounds of solid gold. Adjusted for inflation that means that $300,000.00 of gold in our day was sold for the equivalent in today’s dollars for a little over 50 bucks ($50.00). Like the old German farmer John Reed, many have come to think of eternal life –something with great value –to be something ordinary.
In a materialistic culture as we have in America, we can think of the gift of eternal life to be something ordinary and of little value here and now. We must learn that the prize of eternal life has great value while we are on earth. Eternal life itself isn’t just limited in impact to the future. An American minister named Reverend Ike preached a prosperity gospel. Ike used to speak mockingly of evangelical Christianity as offering only “pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye.” That isn’t true. The Scriptures reveal that eternal life isn’t simply about the future. I am going to tell you a secret that is more precious than gold and it can liberate you from spiritual bondage.
When we hear the expression “eternal life” we are inclined to think about existence after death. In addition, we are prone to think of eternal life as referring to time and duration – things that will last forever. However, according to John 17:3 this isn’t the main idea behind the concept of eternal life. You may have heard it before and you may have heard it many times but eternal life isn’t just about the future, it is about a relationship. Our relationship to God. Read Jesus’ words carefully, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3.) The word know is speaking of a personal or firsthand knowledge of God. The first time this word for “know” appears in the New Testament is in Matthew in reference to the physical union between Mary and Joseph. Matthew 2:25 tells us that Joseph, “…did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.” Although this is a different kind of relationship, it still helps us to recognize that the word “know” is used of a firsthand, personal knowledge of another individual.
Let me clarify my point. You must be clear in your thinking and distinguish between “knowing God” and “knowing about God.” We know God by seeking Him by studying the Bible, by meditating upon His Word, through times of prayer, through times of worship and by purposefully obeying His commands. A person needs to seek a supernatural understanding of God’s Word, and he cannot be content with an intellectual understanding of the Bible and God alone. Two of the greatest evangelical voices in the 20th century warned against failing to distinguish between knowing God and only knowing about God. The first voice is, J. I. Packer, who admonishes us about making knowing God just an intellectual endeavor when he writes:
“If the decisive factor was notional correctness, then obviously the most learned biblical scholars would know God better than anyone else. But it is not; you can have all the right notions in your head without ever tasting in your heart the realities to which they refer; and a simple Bible reader and sermon-hearer who is full of the Holy Ghost will develop a far deeper acquaintance with his God and saviour than more learned men who are content with being theologically correct. The reason is that the former will deal with God regarding the practical application of truth to his life, whereas the latter will not.” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God.)
It is possible to know about God without experiencing Him. It is possible to have only an intellectual understanding of who God is It is possible to fail to experience God as the Psalmist invites us: “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8.)
The second voice is A. W. Tozer, who gave a similar warning. In his book The Divine Conquest he spoke of those who seek God in books alone. He then contrasted the person who has only a second hand knowledge of God with one who knows Him firsthand. Tozer says the person who knows God on a personal level will consider an approach on an intellectual basis alone to be a perversion. He wrote that the man who knows God firsthand will be repulsed by such an idea and will say:
“‘I have heard Him and observed Him. What have I to do any more with idols?’ For he cannot love a God who is no more than a deduction from a text. He will crave to know God with a vital awareness that goes beyond words and to live in the intimacy of personal communion. “To seek our divinity merely in books and writings is to seek the living among the dead; we do but in vain many times seek God in these, where His truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed.” (A. W. Tozer The Divine Conquest.)
This is the point of Jesus’ words in John. He is saying that eternal life is more than grasping the theological truths. It is about knowing God as a friend and companion. Eternal life is about knowing God personally, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3.) When we come to Christ He may merely be a stranger, but we must seek a closer relationship with Him if we are to be healthy spiritually.
Consider three key benefits of a deep and personal knowledge of God. First, some come to Christ and are born again and find instant release from sinful behaviors. Others come to Christ and over the years find themselves mired in some sinful habit. No matter how long you’ve walked with the Lord or no matter how deep the pit in which you find yourself, the gift of eternal life can still bring release from spiritual bondage. The gift and benefit of knowing God is powerful in setting us free. According 2 Peter 2:20 the writer indicates that we escape the pollution of the world through a knowledge of God, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….” Certainly this verse refers in part to the release that we have from sin’s penalty when we trust Christ but there is something more here. This verse speaks of the pollution that surrounds sin. It isn’t merely release from the penalty of sin that comes through a knowledge of God; but the knowledge of God overcomes sin’s polluting and corrupting influence . The more we press in and learn to walk more closely with the Lord the less the grip sin and any kind of spiritual pollution will have on our lives.
Second, according to Daniel 11:32 our energy level and interest in spiritual things is goverened by our knowledge of God. “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32) Daniel’s prophecy was speaking of the people of Israel and that their knowledge of God will cause them to be courageous. In our culture and our day we must be careful to not allow the things of this world to interfere and take God’s place in our lives. It should be obvious that the more distant our walk, the more fearful we will become. Like the apostle, many follow the Lord “afar off” and are then paralyzed by fear. (Mark 14:54.) A fearful Christian will find it comfortable to stick with what he knows even if it is robbing him. A Christian who has only a technical or second hand knowledge of God will be timid and find it difficult to tell others about Christ.
Finally, according to Ephesians 1:17-18 a person will increase in wisdom and understanding through a knowledge of God. In Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17 the apostle prayed, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Knowledge of God will expand our understanding of our world and wisdom will illumine our way. Wisdom is: the ability to anticipate the results of one’s decisions and it is the predisposition to do what is right (follow the way of righteousness). On the one hand by walking close with the Lord, a believer’s ability to see pitfalls and hidden dangers will be heightened. While we have the promise for wisdom in James’ epistle, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5.) In keeping with this verse wisdom is found by spending time with the Lord. The quest for wisdom through prayer will bring us into God’s presence, and wisdom will be granted to us as we walk with Him.
On the other hand, knowing God as a friend and companion will impact our ability to see things more clearly. It gives the believer the capacity to better appreciate the resources and lavish inheritance that is our’s in Christ. Notice this is the message of the next verse, Ephesians 1:18. Our capacity to understand our inheritance in Christ is expanded through our knowledge of Him, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18.) Our ability to see our eternal inheritance is overshadowed by the things of this world but knowing God breaks through the darkness. As a result, we need supernatural understanding to better grasp the blessings and benefits that have been poured out upon us.
Knowing God as a friend in your daily walk will help you face the struggle that you are having with sin. The more closely you know the Lord, the better your understanding of His devotion to you. The better you understand your destiny in Christ, the stronger you will be to face and reject paths that lead to self-destruction. The more confident you are about the Lord’s commitment to you, the easier it becomes to choose the path that will make you stronger.
There is a Rock by the doorway to your life and eternity and it is the Lord Himself. This Rock is more precious than gold, and there is no reason to be afraid since He can give you light for the darkness. This Rock is waiting for you to call. He loves you and He is listening.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.(Psalm 18:2-3.)
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(Permission is granted to use the material as long as the URL and source information are given. Copyright, Keith Churilla, 2010.)
Copyright :: All Rights Reserved
Registered :: Fri Apr 30 07:34:28 UTC 2010
Title :: THE LOST FORTUNE
Category :: Blog
MCN :: EXY13-XGUFY-XRCKR
Never are we acting more like God, then when we forgive someone. Forgiveness is the closet action to God that we will ever undertake.
In today’s society, forgiving someone is almost looked down upon. Vengeance and getting even is what is portrayed as the true test of ones strength. Forgiveness is an act of a cowering weak wimpy person. Is it? Lets look a little bit closer at the importance of forgiveness.
What’s the definition of forgiveness? Forgiveness is a promise. Forgiveness is a pledge. Forgiveness is a statement of undeserved and unearned love that says, no matter what you’ve done, there is no anger, no hatred, no desire for vengeance, and there will never be no retaliation. I do not hold you guilty, and I do not blame you. I hold no self pity for myself because I have been offended. I pass by this transgression completely, and extend my love to you fully. That is biblical forgiveness.
We see this character trait of God in Exodus chapter 34 and verse 6.God is talking to Moses here.
“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”
I know a women who years ago was just a working class girl. Single. Enjoyed the party life. One day after her bowling night with her friends, she was leaving to go home. She had a few beers to drink. Nothing out of the ordinary. She wasn’t stoned drunk, but while she was pulling out she didn’t see the man on the motorcycle. What she thought was a slight bump to the motorcycle, turned out to be much more. She went to see if he was alright, but she could see by the twisted body, that he was not alright. He was dead!
The police came. She was arrested, and tried for manslaughter. Punishable by a long term in prison. But to her amazement, while the trial was coming to a close, the dead mans family chose not to prosecute the girl. In an emotional plea, they decided to forgive her and let her go.
Today that girl and the dead man’s family are good friends. They are all Christians and go to the same church, The girl goes around to schools and preaches to kids the dangers of drinking.
The press went wild with the story of the great act of forgiveness that this family showed this girl. There were stories in all the major newspapers, and they were even on the “Good Morning America” show.
The extension of forgiveness changed, not only the girl’s life forever, but the families involved, and who knows how many countless individuals who came to hear or read about this incredible act of forgiveness.
Jesus Christ taught many parables or stories while He was alive, and one of the most familiar stories was a story of a fathers great love for his son, and forgiveness of a wrong that was totally undeserved.
It is found in the Gospel according to Luke, chapter fifteen. The son said to his father that he wanted his part of the inheritance. He didn’t want to stay with the family. He was tired of living under his roof and under his rules. He was going to go out and do what he wanted to do. ( Kinda sounds almost like the kids of today.) You have to understand, that this was a huge insult to the father, and normally the son would be considered dead to the family and no longer accepted into the house ever again.
Now while this lad is out and spends all his money and times start to get bad. He has no where to go and no food to eat. he finds a part time job tending to a farmers pigs.( How is that. A Jewish kid tending to pigs?) He is so hungry, that he starts eating the slop that the pigs eat.
He decides to go back to his father, and admit that he was wrong and ask his forgiveness. He won’t ask for anything but to be treated like one of his fathers servants. He knows that it would be wrong to ask to be let back into the family circle.
Well while he is walking down the road that leads to his fathers house, rehearsing what he is going to say, his father sees him from the living room window, and runs out the door to meet his son. In Luke’s account of this story on the power of forgiveness, it says that not only did the father run out to meet his son, but his heart did also. Luke 15:20; “his heart went out to him.”
They meet each other and before the son could get a word out of his mouth, the father grabs him and hugs him so tight. The father is elated that his son is back. No guilt! No big speech of how he let him down! No anger! No hatred. The father just pours out his love on his son. The father puts the finest robe on him and a ring on his finger, and they have a huge feast and celebration. The father says, ” my son was dead, and now he is alive again.” ( Luke 15:24) Maybe our government should learn this, and instead of forgiving huge corporations for squandering the stockholders money, they should forgive honest hard working people their financial woes, and start listening with your heart.
This is a story of God’s great love for you and me. The salvation He provides. We have all turned to our own way. ( Isaiah 53:6 ) We, like the son, have said, I don’t need you God. I want to live my life my way. I don’t like your rules. But like the father in the story, God is waiting and looking to see if you are tired of going your own way. He is looking out the window, down the road to see if you decided that you had enough of getting beat up from the world. Come on home. He is waiting to forgive you. He has already done it. While He was hanging on the cross, He said, ” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ( Luke 23:34)
You are never more like God, then when you forgive. He has certainly left us with the greatest example of forgiveness. His son, Jesus Christ