Archive for May, 2017

A gift for condemned people (Romans 3)

May 17, 2017

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. Romans 3:19

Through the years my family has always said, “Dad you are hard to buy a gift for.”  The reason they give is always the same, “You already have all you need.”  Brothers and sisters, they are correct.  I already have all I need in and through Christ!  If you are a follower of Christ, you already have all you need in this life and in the life to come.

This joyous truth came rushing into my heart as I read Romans three this morning.

Romans 3 completes Paul’s argument for the universal truth: “For all have sinned and come short of God’s glory.”  This truth should drive home the following reality: “The whole world will some day be held accountable before God.”

Think about this day:

  • For the person who has rejected Jesus Christ, it will be a day of weeping (in sorrow) and gnashing of teeth (in pain and in hate for God).
  • For the person who has received Jesus as Lord and Savior, it will be a day of joy because of the gift they have received.

You ask, “What gift?”  The gift given by God to condemned people!  Paul describes this gift in the last section of Romans 3.  It is the gift of redemption.

Jesus Christ entered this world for the purpose of purchasing our freedom from the wrath of God,  Jesus went to the cross as our payment for sin.  Jesus purchased our freedom on the cross.  Now that He has purchased our freedom, He offers it to each of us as a gift to be received by faith.  This gift is truly a gift of grace.

In faith we be believe we are sinners condemned to die and to be judged.  In faith we believe we need to repent of our sin and in faith we do repent of our sin.  In faith we believe Jesus payment is sufficient to purchase our freedom.  In faith we believe the blood of Christ can make us justified in God’s sight.  So in faith we receive Jesus and in faith we confidently look for to accountability day because of what Jesus did.

Here is what I believe:

26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:26

So I boast not in myself, but in Jesus!!!  So I praise God for the gift I have received. So I cry out to God, “Help me to teach sinners thy ways and help me to lead them to genuine faith in Jesus.”

Check out David’s words in Psalm 51 as you consider His gift to you.

51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

The danger of taking it for granted (Romans 2)

May 16, 2017

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? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:3

And old love song says, “You never knew what you had until what you had was gone.”  Those words strangely affected me as I turned my Bible to Romans two.  I understood where Paul was going under God’s anointing.  Paul was, in chapter 2, pleading with the Jewish people to understand their universal connection to all Gentiles. Here is the connection: “We are all sinners before God.”

However, the Jewish people did not accept this.  They believed by their special connection (as God’s chosen people) that they did not need to repent nor did they accept Jesus as their messiah.

Paul’s writing in chapter two cuts like a knife through the false views they held.  Consider the first 11 verses:

  • We see their religious propaganda.  They believed in Vs: 1-3 that they were innocent of the sins of the Gentiles.  But it was no true.  They were committing the same sins.
  • We see their religious presumption.  The Jewish people took advantage of good long-suffering and kindness.  They believed we must be right because God has not immediately judged us.
  • We see the religious pay-day that was coming.  In verses six through eleven we are reminded of the day when all people will stand before the Lord.   He is a God who shows no favorites.

There is only one way we received heaven. We receive heaven through Jesus Christ.  Salvation has always been a gift from God (Rom. 6:23).  But judgment is God’s righteous response to have we have lived our lives.

Those who have repented and received grace strive for a life that brings glory to God.  Such a person will receive honor, life-everlasting, and joy in heaven.

Those who have not repented and have not received grace live a blind and self-centered life that will receive judgment and eternal punishment in the terror of hell.

Question:  “Have you received the grace of God or are you taking it for granted that you have it?”

I plead with you to take genuine time in searching for the answer.

The unrest of our times (Romans 1)

May 15, 2017

through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, Romans 1:5-6

Last week I had the joy of visiting some of our senior adult members in the local nursing home.  As always our time was filled with joy, love for God and each other, and many questions.  One of the questions raised by each lady was this, “Pastor what is happening to our nation?”

The question seemed to be asked with a strong urgency about the unrest of our time.

Brothers and sisters, ours is truly a day of unrest.  The listing of troubling circumstances could fill this blog post for many months. The division of why things are in unrest is very diverse and widely debated.  It seems that for most people the problem is being emphasized more than the possible answers to solve the problems.

In Romans 1 the Apostle Paul directs his readers to the one true answer to the worlds problems.  What is the answer? The answer is, “the gospel.”

Paul clearly will lead his readers in a detailed study of man’s universal problem of lostness.  He will prove the fact, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Paul clearly will lead his readers in a detailed study of God’s universal answer for lostness.  The answer is Jesus Christ!

Question: “What is your answer for the unrest of our day?”

Here is how Paul would have answered this question:

  • I have been set apart for the gospel of God, Vs: 1.
  • I am to share the gospel among all the nations, Vs: 6.
  • I am under obligation to share with all men, Vs: 15.
  • I am not ashamed of the gospel which reveals mans path to salvation, Vs: 16-17.

If you are a Christ follower God has set you apart to share the gospel among all the nations.  His calling compels you and I to unashamedly to tell the world of the remedy for their greatest need!

Dear Father, give us a voice to give the answer for the unrest of our day.  Give us power to share the answer and give us power to see men respond to the gospel, in Jesus name. 

 

Fridays assignment (II Kings 20)

May 12, 2017

20 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” II Kings 20:1-2

Imagine an undertaker pulling up in your drive-way in his hearse.  You watch as he gets out.  He goes to the back of the hearse and opens the door.  He gets out his gurney and rolls it up to the door.  Then comes the knock on your door.  You open the door and he says, “Get your house in order, I am here to pick you up!”

This shocking scene might seem like a bad dream or a cruel joke, but it was not either when Hezekiah was told by the prophet to set his house in order, “because he had a sickness that was going to lead to death.”  Reality had showed up to his door.

Brothers and sisters, “has reality shown up at your door?”  If not, allow me to be the one who knocks on your door with this reminder:

“It is appointed unto all men to die.  After we die we will be judged by God according to Hebrews 9:27.”

According to John 5:37-38 this judgment will lead you either into eternal life or eternal death in hell.

The Bible says: “Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. ”  The Bible says, “God extended Hezekiah’s life by 15 years.”

This scene illustrates two amazing facts that help us to keep our houses in order before God:

  1. In times of trial we must be people of strong prayer.  James 1:2-5.

2. In times of testing we must become people with pure hearts.  II Chronicles 32:24-31.

After Hezekiah was healed, he faced a test as God brought a group of leaders from Babylon to meet the healed king.  Instead of emphasizing the glory of the Lord, the king shows the group all he had gained as king.  This wealth would attract these men’s hearts and eventually Babylon would come knocking at the door to overthrow the nation.

Hezekiah would humble himself and ask for forgiveness, but the damage was done.  His house would no longer (after his death) be in order.

Heed this simple warning:  “Begin and end every day with your house being in order.”

Thursdays assignment (Mark 7:24-30)

May 11, 2017

28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:28

Years ago my father told me the story of a particular policeman who was known for his unusual kindness to people.  But one day his kindness was forgotten when came upon a drunk who was lying in the ditch.  The policeman got out of the car and came over to the drunk man who was extremely filthy.  The policeman spoke to the drunk man who was now awake.  He said, “I just cleaned my car.  I should not have to put a person like you in my clean car.”  The drunk replied, “I do not remember asking you for a ride.”

To me, that illustration is both funny and heartbreaking.  Hopefully the funny part was obvious.  However the heartbreaking part maybe not so much.  Truly even the drunk had a soul and that soul was drowning in his own sin.

This story and more importantly, the story in Mark 7 speaks about the issue of “undeserved grace.”  Question, “Why deserves God’s grace?”

It would seem, at the beginning of Jesus encounter with this desperate Gentile woman, that she did not deserve it.  But a deeper look reveals something more:

  • Jesus was teaching us that salvation comes through the Jewish people.  Jesus was and is the Messiah, Acts 3:26.
  • Jesus was teaching us that salvation will not come to those who reject all that it means, Matthew 7:6.
  • Jesus was teaching us that salvation is never earned or deserved, Matthew 11:20-24.
  • Jesus was teaching us that salvation comes by faith to even the worst of sinners, I Timothy 1:15-16.

Before Jesus was a Gentile woman who understood she did not deserve grace.  But she knew God loved even her and He would never reject her cry for grace!

Question: “Are you living a life that reflects this truth?”

Your assignment today is simply this: “Live in a way that reflects the giving of undeserved grace.”

Wednesdays assignment (Colossians 3)

May 10, 2017

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13

For those who follow this blog each day, you know we are taking a break from our reading plan to allow folks to catch up.  We will get back on track May 15 as we will begin Romans together.

Today I want to challenge you to read Colossians 3.

In this chapter Paul comes to the practical out working of the believer’s life in Christ.  Paul has received word that strange teachings have come to the church.  The people were being taught that other things were needed to ensure the salvation of the church.  Paul writes lifting up Christ as the only source of salvation.

Because we have trusted totally in Christ for our salvation, we are now to walk in Him, 2:6.

According to Paul’s teaching, walking in Christ leads us to set our minds totally on Christ’s agenda for our lives.  We see there are things we are to:

  • Stop doing.  We see these in Vs: 5-11.  He says these things are to be dead to us and these things must be put completely away.
  • Start doing.  We see a list of these things in Vs: 12-17.  There are no less than 24 action items in these verses.  I hope you take time to list them out.

For our time I just want to focus on one.  I highlighted it as our Scripture for the day.  Look again at Colossians 3:13.

I find in my spiritual journey a lot of times when I need to put on this truth.  I am many times been hurt by others and yes I have many times hurt others.  Paul writes I am to take the view of walking with brothers and sisters through times of hurt because this is what God has done and is still doing with me.

Here is how James McDonald offers the following observation:

“When push comes to shove, Biblical love accepts the push rather than giving the shove.”

Question: “How does this observation set with you?”

Your answer will be formed based on where you are in life.  As a person whose heart is clean, you would say, “Amen.”  But if you are a person whose heart is not clean because of any number of reasons you might say, “I don’t know about that.”

But what does Paul say? Please read verse thirteen again!  Here is your assignment for the day:  “Forgive and focus.”

Focus on the love of Christ and you will be able to forgive those in Christ.  If not, your life will be filled with short sprints with people until they hurt you and then you will move on to another short sprint.  Eventually you will cease to run for Christ because a life filled with short sprints never leads to endurance in Christ.

“Lord, may each of us run the marathon of faith together for the glory of Christ!”

Tuesdays Assignment (I Samuel 1-2)

May 9, 2017

11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” I Samuel 1:11

This week I am taking a break in our daily reading plan (waiting for the plan to catch up) to deal with individual topics.  Today I want to spent a few moments encouraging you with one truth.  Here is the truth: “God has called us to honor those who hold the office of mom.”

This day I spent time reading about the awesome example Hannah sets for all who would be honorable as mom’s.  I see her as one who does the following:

  • She prays with sincere wishes.  It is her desire to have a son who will honor the Lord will all of his being.
  • She vows to give back what she will be given.  If God releases to her a son she will prepare that son to be used of God.
  • She receives what she asks and she releases what she committed to releasing.  Samuel would become a great servant of God that led to the nation of Israel to turn back to the Lord.

Question:  “How could Hannah live this way?”  Answer, “She wanted her life to be God’s!”  The best mom’s are the mom’s who do the will of God.

If you are like me, blessed with a Godly mom? Give praise to God and give praise to them if they are still alive.

If have not had a Godly mom, then pray for them if they are alive and then pray that God would raise up more Godly mothers.

Monday’s assignment (Matthew 28)

May 8, 2017

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

This morning I suddenly realized I am quite a bit ahead on our reading plan.  So for the next few days I will be focusing on a few individual topics from Scripture as I wait for the reading plan to catch up.

Today I want to focus on a simply thought, “God has an assignment for you each and every Monday.”

Allow this to sink in.  Monday is probably the hardest morning of the week to face the world, that is if you have a day off on the weekend.  Monday is that day when you have to face what you were able to maybe detox from during the weekend.

It is said, in my calling, “More pastors resign on Monday than any other day of the week.”

The question that dominates my heart in this moment is this: “How can I flourish on Monday?”  The answer, “live out your assignment.”

God calls the church to gather each Sunday to be encouraged, equipped, and energized to live out the gospel.  When we go to church with a love for God and a love for His Word and work, we will be ready to approach the world on Monday.

However, when we fail to gather or we gather being distracted from the goal we find ourselves approaching Monday with fear, frustration, and even walking in the flesh.

Think what you day would be like if you had heard a message (yesterday) on Matthew 28:18-20.  Here is what you would have heard:

  • Jesus is on the one who is in full authority in our lives.  He saved us and He has given us resurrection power to do His will among the nations.
  • Jesus has given us a complete assignment.  We are to make disciples as we are being made into a disciple.
  • Jesus has promised to walk along side of us.  He is there every step of the way.

You and I also would have been challenged to respond to what God said with an attitude of “Yes Lord yes to your will and to your way.”

The truth is, you and I will still have fear and sometimes we will have frustration, but we will face the day knowing we are going to make a difference in the world.  So brothers and sisters, “Lets face the day with Jesus!”

Not the result you were looking for (Matthew 27)

May 5, 2017

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus[a] was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-5

It’s Friday, “praise the Lord.”  The weekend is ahead of us.  For me, the weekend is filled with activity that I am believing will bring great joy to my life.  For most of the world Friday means a release from work and a weekend where our work pays off in the things we are able to do.

Warning, if you are not focused on the correct things the weekend might not turn out the way you expected it to!

Consider the Friday Jesus is going to experience in Matthew 27.  Jesus is headed to the cross.  We see Him hanging there on Good-Friday.  We see Him becoming the sacrifice for our sins (Romans 4:25).  We see His experience the wrath of God intended for us.  We see Him dying on the cross.  To one who does not look at this day correctly, he or she might think, “Jesus, it did not turn out like you thought it would.”  But the Bible teaches us just the opposite.  It turned out exactly as God intended it to turn out.  Three days later Jesus would come out of the grave!!!  Because of what Jesus did you and I can have life and have it more abundantly.

However, if we focus on other things we can miss out on what God wants for our lives.

Consider with me two people who were in Jesus presence but did not get it.

  • Judas spent three years with Jesus, but still did not get it.  His passion was money and it consumed him.  What he thought would bring delight ended up being his demise.
  • Pilate was the leader who above all could have done something about Jesus situation.  Instead of embracing Jesus and standing up for Jesus, he decided to try to abstain from involvement.  He decided that he could absolve himself of all guilt.  But this led to his judgment before God.

Check out Daniel 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Both Judas and Pilate stand as examples of people who bought into a life that was Christ-less.  This life ended up with results they did not intend.

Today, if you are considering a change in your path, beware of where you are headed! Is your path to a deeper walk with Jesus or is it a path with a lighter walk with Jesus?

My prayer is that your path will lead you to a deeper walk with Jesus that embraces the power of the cross!!!

What time is it (First day home) Matthew 26

May 4, 2017

45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.  See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners Matthew 26:45

Here in America it is 4:30 AM as I sit in my chair to read today’s Scripture.  I am wide awake.  My body says, “It’s 10:30 in Malawi so I need to be awake.”  My mind says, “It’s 4:30 where I am and only those who have to go work this early get up.”

So, in this moment my body won out over my mind!

Question: “What time is it in your life this morning?”

In Matthew 26 Jesus has come to a time we know as “Good Friday.”  Much has happened leading up to this day.  Two days earlier Jesus said, “I am going to be crucified,” Matt. 26:2.  Two days earlier Mary had poured out her best for Jesus, Vs: 6-13.  Two days earlier Judas had set in motion the moment of betrayal, Vs: 14-16.

On this “Good Friday” Jesus leads His disciples in the Passover celebration, Vs: 17-25.  While at the meal He identifies His betrayer.  On this night Jesus institutes what we call the Lord’s Supper, Vs: 26-29.

The time is now around midnight local time.  The flesh would be saying, “time for sleep.” The Lord is saying, “You need to watch and pray.”

Brothers and sisters, there is so much in this chapter to spiritually chew on.  But for my time (where I am this day) there are two truths that leap out to me:

  1. I cannot control the time or the issues of life that invade my time.

2. I can chose to both pray and live in truth throughout my time.

The Disciples were on God’s time-table.  The night of his betrayal was coming since the foundation of the world.  The events of this night were going to be.  They could not control them.  Listen to me, you cannot go around such times nor can you pass them off to other people!!!

The Disciples were called to watch (live in truth) and pray (talk to God).

Here is how I am to live:

  • I know God loves me and will lead me, Psalm 23.
  • I know God will grow me through trials, testings, and temptations, James 1:1-19.
  • I know Satan wants to dethrone God and to derail me, I Peter 5:7-8.
  • I know my flesh wants to run away, give in, or go another way, Rom. 7:18-25.

Here is how I am to pray:

  • Lord lead me to walk in truth.
  • Lord lead me to enter not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.
  • Lord lead me to pray for others who are in the hour of trial.
  • Lord direct me to have power to reach the world with the Gospel.

When I choose to both pray and live out my faith, my time will be approved by God!!!  May this day be as such for both you and I!!!