Archive for January, 2014

The Glory of “But Now,” (Romans 3)O

January 31, 2014

“But now, the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it,” Romans 3:21

Last week our family had an evening at home when there was nothing on the calendar.  We had a meal together and then after doing the dishes we sat down in the living room to enjoy the fire place and some time of conversation.  Then it happened!!!  John (our youngest son) began to sing some of the songs in which I used to sing with both boys.

One of the those songs has stuck with me for a week.  The song was recorded by the Cathedral quartet.  The song was entitled, “Saved by grace.”  Here are a few lyrics from the song, “I now live and breath in freedom, with every breath of life I take, I am loved and forgiven, back with the living, I am an old sinner saved by grace.”

The lyrics of this song ring so true as I read Romans 3 in our More For Christ readings.

Chapter three begins with Paul continuing to prove that both Jew and Gentile are guilty of rebellion against God.  Certainly the Jewish people had the advantage of the law of God (Vs: 2-3), but it did not cause them to be right with God.  The law pointed out their rebellion and their need of a Redeemer.

By the time we arrive at verse 19 the argument has been proven.  “So that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.”

In this moment the first part of the last lyric is clear, “I am just a sinner…” If this were the last part of my story, I would be heartbroken.  However, there is the glory of but now!!!

Think it through:

God is just (Jesus is the only one to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law)

God is the justifier (Jesus was the only one able to offer a sufficient payment for our sin)

“So that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in God.”  

Because of Jesus you and I can add the last part of the lyric, “I am just a sinner, saved by grace!!!”

Our response:

This day, I shout for joy because I have been given life in Jesus.  I have no boasting in myself.  I am boasting in Jesus!!!

Take some time and read with a joyous heart Romans 3.

Take some time and share with someone the good news of Romans 3

Child of God, you and I are sinners saved by grace!!!

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Who Are You to Judge Me? (Romans 2: Esther 7)

January 30, 2014

“Do you suppose, O man-you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself-that you will escape the judgment of God,”  Romans 2:3

The Apostle Paul begins chapter 2 in the book of Romans with a strong statement, “Therefore you have no excuse.”  In context, Paul knew that his Jewish readers would consider themselves not in the category of those previously mentioned in Romans 1:18-32.  Paul knew these readers prided themselves in being God’s chosen people.  This was clear to them in that they were possessors of the Law of God.

Paul reminds them of this fact:  “Possession of the law does not automatically translate into the practice of the law.”

The truth is, the law simply revealed to Israel that she was not capable of being right with God on her own.  But Israel would not believe this.  She lived a double life.  A life that outwardly seemed “Law abiding,” but inwardly, “Law breaking.”  She was no different from the world.

Paul sets forth one truth:  “Only God is qualified to judge.”  Out of this truth we discover two important points about judgment:

1.  God’s judgment rightly falls on humanity, Vs: 1-5

God is judging Israel as being without excuse.  Notice what this Judge sees:

a.  People who are condemning others for what they are secretly doing, Vs: 2

b.  People who are trampling on the grace of God, Vs: 3

c.  People whose hearts are clearly hard, Vs: 4-5

d.  People who are storing up wrath until the time comes, Vs: 5

2.  God’s judgment is rendered fairly to humanity, Vs: 6-11

a. Those who are self-seeking and self-serving will experience the wrath of God.

b.  Those who surrender their lives to Jesus will experience glory, honor, and peace.

God alone is qualified to judge the deeds and thoughts of men.  Certainly we can trust that he will judge correctly.  So what should our response be to what we have read today?

Our response:

1. We must remember that God shows no partiality, Vs: 11.  God offers salvation to all men.  But he also will judge all men.

2.  When we live a double life the name of Christ is blasphemed in the world, Vs: 24.

So our response must be, to daily seek God’s judgment in our own lives so that we can know where we are sinful (so we can repent) and to know where we must take the gospel (God, who will stand before you this day?)  

The Gospel At Work (Romans 1)

January 29, 2014

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith,” Romans 1:16-17

There are days when we look at the evil in our world and we ask ourselves, “What will it take to turn it around?”  As we consider the possible answers, our minds are turned by the Spirit of God to the Word of God where we always find our answer.  The answer is, “The Gospel.”  

This morning I turned the page, in my Bible, from the book of Acts to the book of Romans.  I read the introductory page in The Gospel Transformation Bible.  Here is a quote from John Calvin, “The book of Romans is the doorway to the treasure of all the scripture.”  Cited from Pg. 1499

The theme verses in the book of Romans are Vs: 16-17 (Noted above for your reference).  In these verses we see the gospel at work.  The book of Romans gives us both the theological and practical out working’s of the gospel.

This morning I want you to clearly see what Paul understood concerning the gospel:

1.  We should never be ashamed of the gospel.

Paul would not shrink back from sharing the gospel.  The gospel had forever changed his life (1:1-15).  Paul knew that the only hope of the world was the gospel.

2.  We should strive to understand the ability of the gospel.

Here is the ability of the gospel, “It is the power of God for salvation to all who believe.” When the gospel begins to work in a person’s life, that person begins to understand (to be revealed) the implications of Jesus offering to God a just sacrifice for our sins.  This person understands that they are made righteous by Christ’s sacrifice and the Holy Spirits regeneration.    This happens to all who come to Jesus

3.  We should have the right attitude toward the gospel.

We must learn to walk by faith.  We will live our lives by faith trusting in the gospel working every day in our lives.

Think it through:

This is the answer to the trouble in our world.

Yes, there are many who reject the gospel and embrace a rebellious lifestyle, 1:18-32. However we are the people who understand the gospel is working for all who believe.

Our response:

We should pray passionately that people would obey the gospel.

We should share passionately so that people could obey the gospel.

A Battle You Cannot Win (Esther 5; Acts 28)

January 28, 2014

“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”  Esther 6:13

The game began and it seemed that one team was more enthusiastic than the other.  As the game continued it became clear that the loosing team did not believe they could win.  After the game I asked the coach, “What was wrong with the team tonight?”  The coach responded, “I could not get them to believe they could win.”

Question, “Are you facing some challenge in which you believe you cannot win?” This morning I opened my Bible to Esther 5 and then into chapters 6 and 7.  Before me was the story of a man who thought of no one but himself (6:6).  He believed he was achieving all he wanted in life (5:11).  All was great except one thing, there was one person who stood in his way.  This man was a thorn in his side (5:9).

Haman did all he could do to destroy both this man, he had a gallows built to hang this man.  Haman did all he could do to destroy Mordecai’s people.

But in the end, he was fighting a battle he could not win.  What was this man’s battle?  He was fighting the will of God.

Think it through:

God’s plan was for a Savior to come.  This Savior would have an earthly lineage coming through the people of Israel.  If Israel was destroyed, there would be no Savior.

God’s plan was for the Savior to go to the cross (The gallows).  Satan thought he had won the battle when Jesus died on the cross.  But Jesus resurrection proved the final victory over Satan’s power.  “Jesus appeared to destroy the works of the Devil,” I John 3:8

Our response:

1.  Make sure all of your battles are being fought on the Lord’s side.

2.  Make sure all of your battles are for His glory and not your own.

In the end, you will always come out victorious because you are fighting on the Lord’s side!!!

A Glorious Violent Storm (Acts 27; Esther 4)

January 27, 2014

“Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo.”  Acts 27:18

Imagine someone calling you, from their cell-phone, while they are on a ship that was in a violent storm.  After explaining the seriousness of the storm they conclude their description by commenting, “This is a glorious violent storm.”  In this moment we would probably think they were either delirious or they had been hit in the head.

Believe it or not, as I read about the storm in Acts 27, I could not help but to cry out, “This is a glorious violent storm!”  Now before you write me off, I want to encourage you to think this storm through:

1.  We see a group of people who have exhausted all human effort.

These sailors, soldiers, and prisoners have cast out of the boat everything that was weighing them down.  The Bible records their exhaustion, “All hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”  Question, “Have you ever been in this place?”  If so, it is a violent storm!!!

2.  We see a group of people encouraged by a diving encounter.

The man of God (Paul) hears from the angel of God, “For I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.”  The Lord would deliver every person on board the ship because of Paul.  God had a plan for Paul and this plan would usher these men to safety.

3.  We see a group of people who escaped the storm by the grace of God.

“God granted each man his life.”  

Our response:

Our response should be of utter praise for the God who has delivered us through a glorious violent storm.  We were like those on the boat.  All human resources were exhausted without being able to make peace with God.  We were encouraged to hear the good news that Jesus has made peace with God.  We were delivered from the storm of God’s wrath by the glorious violent storm of the cross.

This day I praise God for each glorious violent storm that comes my way.  In each storm I am reminded of his grace that greater than all of our fears!!!

A Man Who Cared (Nehemiah 13; Acts 23)

January 24, 2014

“Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for His service,”  Nehemiah 13:14

Recently I watched an interview with a 10-year-old girl who had saved the life of her classmate who was choking to-death.  When she was asked, “Why did you help?”  She responded, “He is my friend, I had to do something.”

Question, “How many of us, who read this blog, are really friends of God?”  Now we know that our friendship is granted by Jesus (John 15:10-15).  We were born as rebels who were against God.  But when the kindness of our Lord appeared.  We were made right with God through the blood of His Son (Col. 2:14).

Those who are truly friends of God have a deep abiding desire to care about the things God cares about.  We see this in the life of Nehemiah in chapter 13.  There are 6 reforms made by Nehemiah.  Each of these reforms reflect on this fact, “Nehemiah is a man who cared about what God cares about!”

Think it through:

1.  Nehemiah sought the purity of his people, Vs: 1-4

2. Nehemiah sought the purity of God’s house, Vs: 5-9

3.  Nehemiah sought the care of God’s leaders, Vs: 10-14

4.  Nehemiah sought the observance of the Lord’s day, Vs: 15-23

5.  Nehemiah sought purity in marriage, Vs: 24-28

6. Nehemiah sought purity in God’s leaders, Vs: 29-30

At the end of the book we read these words, “Remember me, O my God, for good.”

Our response:

You and I must care about the things God cares about.  If we really care we will take action and this action will be remembered when we stand before God.  Maybe you are struggling with a decision about one of the issues that Nehemiah struggled with or maybe it is another issue?  Be assured God is calling you to do something because you care!

Start Now (Acts 22: Nehemiah 12)

January 23, 2014

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name,” Acts 22:16

“One of these days I need to do that!”  This was the response I often received from a man in whom I used to know.  His response came at the end of me sharing the gospel with him, time and time again.  But sadly, he died without reaching the day when he decided to surrender his life to Jesus.”

So often our lives are characterized by what if’s or maybe later.  Before us in Acts 22 is Paul’s defense (Apology) before the crowd who wanted to kill him.  In his defense (Apologetical response) we see a clear presentation of how the gospel captured Paul’s heart.

Think it through:

1.  We see Paul’s life before Jesus, Vs: 1-5

Every person has this type of life story.  Certainly the circumstances will be different but the bottom line is the same, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” 

2.  We see Paul’s life changing encounter with Jesus, Vs: 6-13

In this encounter we discover God coming to Paul.  Paul was going in his own way in life, away from God.  But God captured his heart.  Sadly, not everyone can identify with this part of Paul’s story.

3.  We see Paul’s life walking with Jesus, Vs: 14-21

For the day of Paul’s “start” we see a life made new.  We see a life with a true commitment to complete what God had started in his life.  “Go for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.”  

Question:  “Have you gotten started with Jesus?”  If so, your life is characterized by one who is walking with Jesus.

Question, “Have you forgotten why you started?”  If so, spend some time with Jesus, in His Word, being reminded of how and why you started!!!

Would You Be Willing To Move (Nehemiah 11; Acts 21)

January 22, 2014

“And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem,” Nehemiah 11:2

The title of our blog is an interesting question; “Would you be willing to move?”  The context of the question comes from Nehemiah 11 were we see the people of Israel casting lots for who will move their families to live in the city of Jerusalem.

The reason for this was simply, “The glory of the Lord.”  The people had promised (10:39) to care for God’s house.  This would be impossible unless the people lived within a close proximity to the Temple.  So one family out of every ten moved inside the city walls.

Question:  “Would you and I be willing to move to serve the Lord more?”

Think it through:

1.  People relocate often in a course of a lifetime.  Do these people consider their church when they are moving?

2.  People look for a particular house when they move?  Does the house have to be close to a local church?

3.  People want the best location possible?  Do these people consider their church field the best location?

Our response:

1.  If I were moving, I would want to first know, “Where is the church God is calling my family to be a part?”

2.  If I were moving, I would want to live close to the church.

3.  I f I were moving, I would want to have a home that was family friendly, so that I could serve my church.

Good thoughts for those of you in whom God could be calling to move!!!

Why Did He Do It? (Acts 19; Nehemiah10)

January 21, 2014

This past week I read the story of a man who drowned in the Chicago river as he tried to retrieve his cell phone.  Question, “Why did he do it?”  Answer, “In the moment, he did not consider the value of his life.  He only was considering the value of his cell-phone.”

This days, “More for Christ” readings come from Acts 20.  As I read the account of Paul’s ongoing ministry, I found myself asking a familiar question, “Why did he do it?”  Here is Paul’s answer, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

In this crucial moment in Paul’s life we see two points that help us to see how he was able to stay the course even though he knew that chains and afflictions awaited him:

1.  Paul was dedicated to the course God had placed before him, Acts 2:24

This is not an easy place to be, if you are not dedicated to the course God has placed before you.  Paul had placed his life in God’s hands.  He was not protecting or making a God out of his own life.  Paul did work to provide for his living.  However, his life was God’s.  His well-being was not a chain that kept him from doing the will of God.

2.  Paul’s decision was to complete the course God had placed before him, Acts 2:25

Paul understood that God would be glorified only if he served Him in the way’s God had decided.  Paul was ok with this and charged forward in obedience.

Think it through:

Do you and I really know the course and are we really dedicated to the course God has placed before us?

As I look at Paul’s life here, I see three foundational things every believer must do if they want to know and follow the course God has for them:

1.  Serve the Lord (Vs: 19).  You must begin right where you are serving the Lord.

2. Share the whole counsel of God (Vs: 20-21).  You must daily read, heed, and sow the Word of God.

3.  Allow the Spirit to guide you (Vs: 22).  You cannot be guided by emotion or circumstances.  You must allow the Spirit to guide you.

Our response:

Will you follow this course?  I promise you clarity and conviction if you do!!!  In the end, people might ask, “Why did you do it?”  You will have the correct answer.

Something That Cannot Be Stopped (Acts 19; Nehemiah 9)

January 20, 2014

“And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that the gods made with hands are not gods,” Acts 19:26

Does anyone remember the Energizer Bunny?  The advertisement for Energizer batteries simply put forth the viewpoint, “Our batteries last longer than any other battery.”  Certainly the people at Duracell would disagree.  And so would all the other battery companies in the world.

Here is something that all of the battery companies have in common, “Eventually all of them will die.”  There has not been a battery created that will last forever.  Eventually, they will be stopped.

This morning I discovered, from Acts 19, something that cannot be stopped.  It is something that was the very thing the Apostle Paul discovered.   Admittedly, it could be hard to see this something if you only see the obstacles.  The three obstacles that stand out are these:

1.  The people in the synagogue wanted to stop the very thing they could not stop, Acts 19:9-10

2. The Jewish exorcist wanted to stop the very thing they could not stop, Acts 19:17

3. The Business men wanted to stop the very thing they could not stop, Acts 19:26

What was the thing they could not stop?  “The gospel.”

Think it through

In each case the gospel won the day.  Brothers and sisters, the gospel cannot be stopped.  To this I am very thankful.  This is why we see Paul as such a great success in the history of the Church.

The gospel had captured Paul’s heart, Acts 19:21

The gospel was the compass of Paul’s life, Acts 19:26

The gospel was never conquered in Paul’s life, II Timothy 2:9-10

Question:  Does the gospel occupy the same place in your life?  If so, be assured you are possessed by and are in possession of something that can never be stopped.