Archive for April, 2019

In whom or in what do we depend? (Romans 9)

April 30, 2019

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. Romans 9:16

This could be the most difficult chapter in the Bible.  Years ago I wrote as a heading over this chapter, “Above my pay grade.” The subject matter of this chapter is the sovereign election of God.

This chapter begins with Paul’s heart being revealed. Paul was willing to give up his own life if it would be the means by which his countrymen would be made right with God.  But Paul knows his own life could not save any man.

Now Paul dives into the subject of sovereign election.  Here are three things that Paul understands:

  • Paul understands it is only by God’s mercy that people are saved.

Paul gives us several illustrations.  Not all of Israel will be saved, only those of the chosen seed.  Jacob was saved but not Esau.  Pharaoh was not saved.

  • Paul understands it is the potter who both selects and molds the clay.

As the potter, God selects some people to extend mercy. As the potter, God endures the rebellion of some, in their lifetime, with judgment to come at death.  As the potter, God has chosen to save Gentiles.

  • Paul understands whoever believes in Jesus will be saved, Vs: 30-33.

Brothers and sisters, reading what Paul understands helps me in the following ways:

  1. I am depending on God’s mercy to save me.
  2. I am depending on God’s hands to mold me.
  3. I am depending on God’s power to see me safely home.

Now, there may be deeper arguments and there may be deep divide among some who read this.  If this be true, just know I am depending on God who extends mercy to “whosever calls on His name!”

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Its Over (Romans 8)

April 29, 2019

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

The game seemed to be in question.  The two teams were going back and forth with only seconds left.  Then it happened, one team made the crucial move that won the game as the horn sounded.  The game was over and the winning team ran onto the court knowing they had won the game.

Two-thousand years ago, Satan ran on the court of life in Jerusalem thinking he had won the battle with Jesus, but the opposite had occurred.  The cross brought the victory man could never have over his sin.  The cross brought the sufficient payment for our sins so that the condemnation of God delivered in the wrath of God was paid.  But there was more, three days later Satan’s last trophy, called death, was taken away as Jesus got up from the grave.

As we read Romans 8 we need to read it with this victory in mind.   The old life has passed away and the new life has begun.

In this glorious chapter we see the victory:

  • We have victory in knowing there is a new address by our names.
    • Heaven will be our home, 8:20-24.
    • We call God our Father, because He addresses us as His children, 8:12-16.
  • We have victory in knowing there is a new assignment for our lives.
    • We are to walk in the Spirit of Life, 8:5-10.
  • We have victory in knowing we are protected  by God, 8:28-38.

Our lives now make sense.  We are now living with certainty in a world that is so uncertain.  We know God is for us and we know God is winning on the field of life.  The journey may become stormy and the journey will sometimes hurt deeply, but in the end, we will arrive at our new address in heaven.  As we arrive we will fall before our Lord and worship at His feet.

Brother and sisters, the war is over!  Jesus has won the victory.  Isn’t it time that you claim what is yours in Christ.  Get out there in the field of life.  Cease worrying and ceasing wondering if you are going to make it.  God has won and is winning the victory!!!

Trying to stop what you are doing? (Romans 7)

April 26, 2019

 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.  Romans 7:9-10

It was said that the great Dwight Moody came by a railroad depot where a man was discipling a young man who was stealing nuts and bolts from the tracks.  The great evangelist asked, “how are you going to help this young man?”  The response was filled with passion, “I am going to get this boy an education.”  To which Moody responded: “everyone needs an education.” “But if you do not do something about his heart, he will come back as an educated man and steal the entire track.”

The truth is, there are things about human beings that demand a heart change. In Romans seven Paul writes about man’s attempt at keeping the law.  In keeping the law men thought they could be right with God and they thought they could overcome sin.

Paul writes, this was never the laws intention:

  • The law reveals our sin, Vs: 7-10.
  • The law reveals our bondage in sin. Vs: 11-12.
  • The law reveals our inability to overcome sin, Vs: 13-20.
  • The law reveals our need of a Savior, Vs: 21-25.

In Jesus Christ we find one who completely kept the law.  In Christ we see someone who totally overcame sin.  In Christ men can do what the Law could never do, live above sin.  In Christ we can say, what I used to do I no longer do!!!

Thanks be onto God who gives us victory.

Have You died? (Romans 6)

April 25, 2019

For one who has died has been set freeb]”>[b]from sin, Romans 6:7

The subject of death is one that most people want to avoid.  Death is a truth that speaks to finality in a world that prides itself in focusing on the moment.  But a deeper truth is this: “no one is really ready to live until they are ready to die.”

The Apostle Paul has this deeper truth firmly in mind as he comes to writing Romans 6.  Paul finishes chapter five writing about the glorious grace of God which is greater than our sin.  Paul has revealed Jesus coming to do something about our sin.  Jesus came as our Redeemer to Reconcile us to God.

This work is called the grace of God.  This grace is extended to all sinners who repent. Some call this the great exchange.  Jesus takes our sin and we take his salvation.

In Romans 6, Paul illustrates this exchange as “death to sin.”

When a person comes to Christ, he or she is said to have died to sin.  This is to be followed up with a life that is seeking that the body of sin would be brought to nothing.

How does this work?

  • When grace is applied we are set free from sin.
  • When grace is applied we become servants of righteousness.
  • When grace is applied we bear fruit of a new life.

So the question of the hour is this: Have you died?

This is so amazing to me this day.  In Christ I die to sin and I will die an earthly death, but I will live in righteousness and I will forever reign with Christ in heaven.

But at the same time this is so sobering to me.  Those without Christ are already spiritually dead. They will die an earthly death and they will die a second-death for all eternity.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:6

Our job as believers is to walk in newness of life so that others would know where true life begins and they would see the fruit of such a life.

So I ask, Have you died?

This is beyond me (Romans 5)

April 24, 2019

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Romans 5:6

Take a moment and allow the above verse to sink in for a moment.  Go back and read it again.  Now read it one more time.

How could it be true?  Why would Holy God give His only begotten Son to die on a cross for unholy people?  This is beyond me, I cannot fathom the heights and depths of God’s love.  Think about this brothers and sisters, God demonstrated His love before humanity by dying in our place.

I don’t know how you are feeling at this moment, but I am feeling the weight of His love for someone who is unworthy.  When I consider my sinful life, I have to ask, why did He love me and why does He continue to love me so much?

Would I give my life for someone who is ungodly?  Would I rejoice in loving the unloveable?  Would I have such love in my heart?

Here is the truth brother’s and sisters, even if you or I died for the ungodly, it would not change them.  It was only Jesus’ death that could change them.  Because of what Jesus did, the following is possible:

  • Mankind can have peace with God.

In Christ the curse can be removed and in Christ the wrath of God is satisfied and can be satisfied in your life.  In Christ the debt has been paid and can be applied to your life.  We see this in Romans 5:1, 9-11.

  • Mankind can have a place with God in the heavens.

This place with God gives us access in prayer, by grace, and through faith.  This place with God brings great joy in our lives and gives us eternal hope.  We see this in Romans 5:2.

  • Mankind can have a new perspective with God.

We now see life in a totally new light.  We begin to progress in our lives.  Finally we stand with God when before we would flee from the storms of life.  We now have a testimony of new character we never possessed before.  Now our lives become warrior like in our belief that no weapon formed against us will prosper.

Oh my friend, God’s love is beyond me to understand, but at the same time it is flowing to me and through me because it is coming from the fountain of God in heaven!!!

Isn’t it time that what is beyond you becomes part of you?  Receive His love today!!!

Footsteps of the faith (Romans 4)

April 23, 2019

 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. Romans 4:12

It was time for the service to begin. Everything had been done and we were ready.  We had prayed, fasted, prepared, and shared our faith with anyone who would listen.  It was now time for the service to begin.

As we worshipped the Lord, I could sense the battle was strong.  The enemy did not want to give up the souls of men and women in whom he had entangled in his web of deceit and darkness.  As we drew to the invitation it was clear, the battle was at its height.

It was time for the invitation.  The question rang out from the pulpit, who will believe in Jesus.  For those who did, it was now time to put feet to their faith.

As we come to Romans 4, we find Paul giving us a case study of footsteps of faith.  Israel had been trusting in the keeping of the law for their salvation, even though they could not possibly keep the law.

Paul draws from Abraham’s footsteps of faith to prove one’s salvation comes by faith.

Two truths stand out to me:

  1. Abraham evidenced faith in God’s work on his behalf, Vs: 3.

Consider the following:  Abraham evidenced faith by looking forward to the coming of Jesus to purchase his redemption, Vs: 6-7.  Abraham evidenced faith by looking forward to Christ’s payment being received by God the Father, Vs: 5.

2. Abraham evidenced faith by receiving circumcision as a sign of his faith in Jesus, Vs: 10-11.

Believers today evidence our faith in Jesus work on our behalf by receiving baptism as our testimony before the world concerning the God who is coming again.

When we evidence faith and receive baptism we are walking in the footsteps of faith.

Nine people evidenced their faith this past Sunday and now we begin to prepare them to each receive Baptism.    I cannot wait to see what God is going to do through them and through each of us as we seek to lead others to walk in the footsteps of faith!

Who is better off? (Romans 3)

April 22, 2019

What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off?[b] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,  Romans 3:9

Some time ago Sherry was looking for some of our old family picture albums.  The albums contained the pictures of our children when they were little. There was one album that could not be found.  For days Sherry looked and began to be concerned that the album was lost, which meant the first pictures of our kids would be erased from our lives.

Question: when you consider your life now and when you consider your life from long ago, are you better off now or back then?

In Romans 3, Paul concludes his argument concerning both Jews and Gentiles. Paul concludes that both Jews and Gentiles are better off because of Christ’s coming.  Consider Romans 3:24-26:

24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 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.

When Paul looked back in time, he concluded, certainly the Jews had it better than the Gentiles.  The Jews had the law of God and they were God’s blessed people.  But what they had did not benefit them because they trusted in what they had for their salvation instead of what Christ had come to do.  Paul’s conclusion: “No one is better off than anyone else in this life.  All men are sinners in need of a Savior.”

But there is good news beyond this.  There was one who came who was better off than you and I.  His name is Jesus.  He came to be our Savior (Vs: 21).  For all who receive Him as their Lord and Savior by faith enter into a new position before God.

Now you are better off than you were before!!!

Sherry did find the pictures and oh what a blessing it was to look back to those early days of our marriage.  But to God’s praise, we are better off today because we are more like Christ and our children have come to know Christ.

Easter is about the day man could get better by being born again.  Monday is the day we begin to get better in our lives because we now walk with Christ!!!

A Good Purpose (Romans 2)

April 19, 2019

 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 2:4

Do you ever wonder if your life is making a difference in the world?  Yesterday evening I was visiting a lady in the nursing home who is near death.  As I stood there talking with her daughters I wondered, what kind of life did this precious lady live and did her life make a difference?

Today is Good Friday.  On this day we remember the sacrifice Jesus make for all of mankind.  If ever there was a person whose life made a difference it was Jesus.  The Bible says, “He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God,” II Corinthians 5:21.

As we come to Romans two, there were those in Paul’s day who looked at what Jesus did and they said, He is not the Messiah.  In other words, his life was without purpose.

But for those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we cry out, “by His stripes we are healed.”

Consider how much Jesus did on the cross and consider how much Jesus is doing in His love for us.

In Verse 4 Paul writes about three parts of God’s love: His kindness, His forbearance, and his patience.

In God’s kindness God does not judge us in the moments when we sin.  In His forbearance He does not give us what we deserve.  In His patience He gives us time to repent.

Good Friday always reminds me of God’s kindness.  Good Friday always reminds me of my need of daily repentance before Him.   Good Friday reminds me to always show forth His kindness to the world.

The way  you and I can make a difference in the world is to live the way Jesus lived!!!

Among the nations (Romans 1)

April 18, 2019

 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”  Romans 1:17

Is it just me or does there seem to be more trouble among the nations than at any time in the history of the world?  I believe Scripture is clear (Matthew 24:5-14), before the Lord’s Second-coming the world will begin to self-destruct with hatred, evil, and wickedness of all kinds.

As the world advances in technology, we are more and more connected to what is happening even in the most remote places of the world.  But instead of making a difference in the world we are filling the world with more filth than ever.

Here is an important point:  God intends for the nations to be connected by the church in and through the gospel!  Look at Romans 1:5-6

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.

God intends for His church to be among all the nations of the world.  As we are going we are carrying the one weapon that can change the entire world.  The weapon is the gospel.  Paul writes, “It is the power of God.”

Two truths about this power:

  • The gospel impacts every-one who believes its truth.

Romans 5:6 “Jesus died for the ungodly of this world.”  All who come to Him receive forgiveness of sins and they have His righteousness implanted in them.  Now each person is different.  He or she lives differently because they are different.  There is now a power inside of them for change among the nations.

  • The gospel impacts every nation that believes the truth.

Paul writing to the Ephesians writes about the gospel taking people and making them into a new people group (Ephesians 2:12-16).  We know this people group as the family of God.  As a people group we go with a power that can change every nation.

So, we must ask ourselves, why are the nations of the world in such disaster?  Could it be that you and I have a responsibility in this?  Are we ashamed of the gospel?  I believe, if we are not sharing it is because we are ashamed.

Today, I want to impact individuals and I want to impact nations.  To be honest, I am not ashamed to carry the gospel to each.

As we approach Easter, remember Jesus died for people and for nations of people!!!

The greatest invitation (Revelation 22)

April 17, 2019

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Question: have you been invited?  Sincerely, I am asking you, have you been invited?  Now, I know the natural response is to respond to the question with a question.  Here is your question:  “what am I being invited too?”

In Revelation 22, John completes his writing concerning the prophecy given to him by Jesus (22:1-5). John concludes with a description of the glorious paradise of heaven.  What was lost in Genesis 3 will be restored in heaven.  For all-time, the redeemed of the Lamb will experience eternal life, the wonder of fellowship with God, and the beauty of holiness with Him.

Notice I wrote, “the redeemed of the Lamb.”  Those who are not redeemed will continue in this life to do evil and to live rebellious lives described as “filthy” by John.  Such people have no desire to be invited.

But for all who know the Lord, the invitation is so amazing.  The invitation is this: come and follow Jesus.

I want you to know, the greatest invitation I every received was the invitation of the Holy Spirit to come to Jesus.  I can still remember the bride of Christ (the church) where I heard the invitation for the first time.

So, let me ask you, have you been invited to come to Jesus?  If so, ask yourself this question, have my friends and neighbors been invited?

Now it becomes personal.  I believe the Lord Jesus is inviting the church to get busy in inviting people to come to Him!!!