Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

Meeting With God (Exodus 19: Luke 22)

March 8, 2013

“And be ready for the third day.  For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”  Exodus 19:11

And you are those who have stayed with me in my trials.”  Luke 22:28

“God, I am really upset with you at the moment.”  These were the words spoken by a cowboy who was standing over the grave of a departed friend.  This was a scene from the movie, “Open Range.”  Later in the movie, a young teenager is spared from death which prompts the nurse to say, “We need to thank God for a miracle.”  To which the cowboy responds, “I guess so.”

Question, “Is this the way the world views meeting with God?” Certainly this is not how the Bible depicts Israel’s meeting with God in Exodus 19.  Follow the path:

1.  We see God’s past relationship with Israel, Vs: 1-4

God had bore them on eagles wings and had brought them to Himself.  This is a picture of our Savior who with grace brings us to Himself (John 15: 14-18).

2.  We see God’s proposed relationship with Israel, Vs: 5-6

If you obey my voice and keep my commandments, you will be a treasured possession.  You will be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests.  In this moment the people tremble and the people are terrified because they cannot approach God.

Brothers and sisters it is only by grace that we are called into a relationship with God.  Also it is only by grace that we continue in that relationship with God.  When we consider Luke 22 we see the Disciples before Jesus.  They were called to this relationship and every one of them denied him.  But Jesus looked beyond their denial and pointed to their reward (Vs: 30 “That you may eat and drink at my table.”).

Brothers and sisters, the cross made the difference!!!  The world does not understand this grace.  This is why they talk with God in the ways that they do, thinking they are the masters of the universe.  However, we know, it is because of grace that they are allowed to live in rebellion.

This morning I take away two things:

1.  Thank you for Jesus-I have been saved by grace through faith!

2.  Help me to lead others to Jesus-Some day grace will end and only judgment remains. 

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A Cry From Hell

June 14, 2012

And He called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” Luke 16:24

One of the toughest challenges I face in teaching my youngest son the Word of God is before us this morning.  Here we have in our More For Christ readings, Luke 16:19-17:10, the tragic story of a man who is rich toward himself but bankrupt toward God.

As I will share this passage with John tonight in our devotion, I will face the challenge of having to describe hell.  I know John will ask, “What is hell like?”  My son is very literal so I know the challenge will be there.  However the greater challenge will be in helping John develop a heart for those who are headed there.

For a moment let’s consider what Jesus said:

1.  The scene on earth, Vs:19-21

We see two men with different stories.  One was rich and he fared wonderfully in this life.  The other was poor and he fared miserable in this life.  Jesus is silent about their relationship with him, but the text is clear.  The poor man was right with God and the rich rejected God.

2.  The scene in eternity,  Vs: 22-31

Again we see two men with different stories.  The rich man is now woeful and the poor man is now wonderful.  The state in eternity is because of Christ payment for sin.  Now the bible says, “The rich man was in torment.”  We ask ourselves, “Why was he in torment?”

a. He was in physical pain, Vs: 24

b. He was in mental pain, Vs: 25

c. He is in eternal pain, Vs: 26

d.  He has evangelistic pain, Vs: 27-31

This rich man was in torment and he was troubled because he knew he had wasted his opportunity to follow Christ while in his earthly state.  He was in eternal pain because their was a great gulf between heaven and hell and he could not cross and would spend eternity in hell.  He was in evangelistic pain because he could not warn his family.  They to were following his course in life.

This morning I realize I must share these facts with John so that he can both praise God for his salvation and he can proclaim the gospel to those who are on the same course as the rich man.  Brothers and sisters, the fact is, you and I need to both praise and proclaim the gospel this day.  Oh if we could hear the cries from hell, we would know the reality of this passage.

Judgment and Mercy

June 8, 2012

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered this way?” Luke 13:2

There are some things that seem to be great paradox’s when I consider them.  For example when Paul writes, “Consider the goodness and severity of God.”  These things seem as if they are opposites but the Word Of God places them together.

Also there is the text before us in our More For Christ readings, Luke 13:1-21.  Notice with me the context:  Jesus is teaching concerning judgment (12:57-59).  As he finishes there are those who come to him with news of a recent event where Galileans were murdered by Pilate.  To these people, this was God’s judgment because they were sinners.  But Jesus response is simply, “There are not categories of sinners.  All are sinners and all are going to perish unless they repent.”

Here we see what some would consider a paradox. Jesus is speaking about the soon judgment of God but at the same time He is speaking about the mercy of God.  If a person repents they will receive mercy.  If they do not repent they will be judged. At this point there is a paradox.  But really there is not because the gospel reconciles judgment and mercy.

When a person recognizes the sinfulness of their present course of life and repents (Turns to follow a different direction).  This person embraces the mercy of God.  In God’s mercy our sin is judged at the cross.  Jesus in His mercy took our judgment so that we might have His grace.  In this moment Luke 13 becomes a beautiful two-sided gold coin that explains the riches we have in Christ because of both His mercy and judgment.

At this point, I have to move away from my laptop and just hold up my hands in praise.  At this moment I have to cease writing and get out of this office and tell someone about God’s judgment and mercy.  At this point I find myself getting excited about Sunday because it will be a day that I can praise him for his judgment and mercy.  Oh to God that this would be the path for every believer today.

Why Jesus?

May 29, 2012

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him,” Lk. 8:40

This morning I am amazed and heartbroken for the masses of people in our world who have zero desire for Jesus.  Certainly I know theologically why these people have no desire for Jesus.  Paul in his writings, Romans 1:18-25, gives us a clear understanding of the depraved ways of humanity.  In Romans 3:11-19 Paul causes us to see even clearer the desires of humanity.  “There is none who seek after God, no not one.”

For those of us who know Jesus, we cry out, “Come to Jesus!”  We truly have been blessed to have our eyes opened to the truth of Jesus.  Such was the case in our More For Christ readings, Luke 8:40-9:19.

This section begins with a simple but powerful statement, “And all the people were waiting for him.”  This is amazing to me.  Certainly we know that not all of the people were waiting for Jesus as the Messiah who was coming.  For many of these people they were only waiting for the miracle worker.  However there were two who were singled out:

1) We see a daughter who is dying

The father of this daughter comes and pleads with Jesus to come.  Jesus willingly goes with this man.  As they are going, this father will receive news that will require faith if he is going to continue to walk with Jesus.

2) We see a woman who is dying

As Jesus is going with a large crowd traveling with him, someone reaches out in the crowd and touches Jesus.  Certainly we know that many people are touching Jesus as he walks.  But this touch is different.  Here is a woman who touches Jesus in faith.  For 12 long years she has been sick.  She has spent all that she has on doctor bills but only is getting worse.  But on this day, she comes to Jesus and her need is met.

Jesus calls this woman out, “She speaks out.”  Here we see the great why of all of this.  The father needed to hear of Jesus work because the news was coming that his daughter was dead.  The news of Jesus present miracle would lead him to persevere knowing that Jesus could raise his daughter from the dead.  This very thing, Jesus did.

If you were to ask these two people, “Why Jesus.”  Their response would be so powerful.  Jesus has power over both disease and death.  Oh my friends, this is the gospel.  When Adam sinned, death passed unto all men.  How do we know?  Look at the diseases among us.  However Jesus loved us so much that he came and delivered us from death.

This is why we proclaim, “Jesus alone do I trust and Jesus alone do I cling.”  Brothers and sisters I challenge you to join me in telling the world, “Why Jesus!”

A Man Who Needed More

February 28, 2012

“Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord,” Acts 10:33

This mornings readings center on Acts 10.  For me, this is one of the great moments in the New Testament Church.  In this passage we read the story of how God clearly defined for Peter and the church the following, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.”

This is an amazing truth that comes from the gospel.  Question, “Has this truth become a reality in your life?”  Consider how it became a reality in Peter’s life.  Acts 10 begins with the brief story of a Gentile who needed more (10:1-8).  Here was a guy who was loved by many, simply because he was a good man who gave to the poor and feared God.  However, He did not know Jesus Christ.  But Jesus, in his mercy, would send Peter to him to show him what he needed.

Acts 10 continues with the brief struggle of a Jew who needed more (10:9-23).  God would reveal to Peter that his adherence to the Kosher laws was hindering the gospel.

Acts 10 progresses as God brings these two men together (10:24-43) in a magnificent display of God’s glory and grace.  When Peter comes to this man’s house he discovers that the man has gathered his family and friends to hear the message that Peter would deliver.  The fact is, “There are many men who need to know more.”

Peter in obedience to God shares the message of the Gospel, “To everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  Brothers and sisters this is what every man needs to hear.

However, many people still have not heard.  It could be possible, that many of these people are in your spear of influence.  This morning I was reminded of this as I read Proverbs 31.  Consider the following, “Open your mouth to the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” 31:8-9.  We who have been given the gospel must give the gospel to those who do not have the gospel.

I am so thankful that God revealed this to Peter and I am thankful that God inspired Luke to record for us this powerful moment in the church.  I wonder, “What will history record about your church and my church?”  I pray that our churches will obey the gospel call, “God shows no partiality!!!”

Don’t End Up Where They Ended Up

February 3, 2012

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” Matthew 23:33

One of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a guy is when he has to admit he does not know where he is going.  Years ago I was with a team from our church doing a missions week in West Va.  One afternoon several of us guys were tasked to go to a local Wal-mart to purchase needed supplies for our team.  We drove two vehicles to pick up what we needed.  I was ridding in the second vehicle.  I can still remember as we drove by the exit we needed to get off.  As we continued to drive we could see the Wal-mart on the left.  The lead car pulled off the next exit ramp and the driver stopped on the side of the ramp and ran back to the car saying, “it’s not my fault, someone told me this was the exit.”  We all had a good laugh.

This mornings passage, Matthew 23:27-24:14, gives us no reason to laugh.  Jesus is finishing his list of 7 woes upon Israel for her life of sin in which she was turning people away from the gospel.  The last two woes give us clarity in the fact that these present Jews were following the same path as had their forefathers.  This would be seen in the fact that they would murder Jesus as had their fathers murdered the prophets.  They were rejecting their only hope and they would end up just like their forefathers, “Without hope in the world.”

We see the depths of this in Vs:37-39, when Jesus used the illustration of a mother hen that would gather her chicks under her wings to protect them.  Jesus would protect Israel from the wrath to come if she would turn to him.  But she would not.

This morning, I wonder how many of us have come to Christ for salvation but we have failed to abide under the shadow of his wings for our every moment of life?  I often encounter followers of Christ who fail to consult, follow, or even cry out to God in their daily lives.  We often follow a course that only cries out to God when disaster has come.

Israel would do this in AD 70 only after the temple was destroyed (24:1-2).  But it was then to late.  I challenge you to not end up as they did.  I challenge you to share the message of the gospel with those who are headed to an eternity in the flames of hell.  Many of their fathers and mothers are already there.  Only the gospel can change their course.  You be the one who points them in the right direction.

For further reading, “Galatians 1, II Peter 3, and James 1:19-27.”  

Only With Difficulty

January 27, 2012

“And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 19:23

This mornings readings come from Matthew 19:23-20:16.  Here we find ourselves engaged with Jesus in making sense out of man’s rejection of the gospel.  If you are a genuine follower of Christ, with certainty I can say, “You have had this experience with people.”

I can still remember how broken-hearted I was over a person years ago.  I had met them in the town where I was pastor. Immediately the Lord had placed this man in my heart.  I just knew this man would come to Christ.  I would daily pray for him and I would seek to share the gospel with him every time I would see him.  I can remember sharing Christ one evening in a crusade.  I looked at the back of the building where we had gathered and there he stood.  I can still remember how I pleaded that night that He would come to Christ.  But he did not. To this day, this man has not been born again.

In Matthew 19, Jesus shares truth with a rich man who is more in love with his riches than he is with the one in whom there is true riches.  The disciples had to be in shock when this man went away sorrowful. This was a good man who did many good things.  These guys were shocked that he would not follow Christ.  Jesus knew this so he engages these men in a discussion that every student of the gospel needs to engage in.

Jesus makes it clear that salvation is only in Himself (With God all things are possible). He also makes it clear that people have roadblocks to the gospel.  In this man’s case materialism was a roadblock.  This man was giving up eternal riches for earthly riches.  Outwardly he looked ok but inwardly he was not.  The disciples could not understand this.

They questioned, “Who can be saved?”  Jesus answer is clear, “Only those that God saves!!!”  Brothers and sisters we have the task of sharing the gospel.  God has the task of saving sinners.  Every person has roadblocks called sin.  As we so the seed of the gospel, God removes those roadblocks with His precious blood.

Out of this discussion the disciples wonder what benefit there is in forsaking materialism and following Christ.  The answer for Jesus is amazing, “Those who follow Christ will receive 100 fold in the life to come.”  Serving Jesus had eternal rewards.

Yes there will be days of difficulty when people, like my friend, say no to Jesus.  But there are days, as I had last week, when people will say yes to Jesus.

So my challenge to you is simply this, “In days of difficulty and in days of delight, stay focused on your task.  The gospel is the power of salvation to everyone who believes…”

For further study consider Acts 8:26-40.  Also for further development join us in committing to sharing Christ with all those around you.  

What Is Most Important?

January 19, 2012

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys a field.”  Matthew 13:44.

This morning the words of Jesus intersect us at the crossroads of another busy day.  In most of our lives we find ourselves cramped for time and often crowded with little time to think about what we read.  With this truth in mind I offer a question, “What is most important?”  Your answer to this question determines how you approach every moment of your life.

Consider the following, Jesus in our reading today, Matthew 13:44-14:12, offers three parables concerning what every believer considers to be the most important thing (Which is the gospel).  In these parables we see the value of the gospel in what people are willing to give up in order to share the gospel.

As I read these verses, I found myself asking, “Is the gospel so valuable that I want others to have it?”  The gospel is so wonderful in that it is offered to all of humanity.  But for many of us we offer things to our fellow-man that are far less of value than the gospel.  Anything less than the gospel is a deadly gift.

This was illustrated for me as I read the story of a 7-year-old girls death this past week.  She was on the playground with her friend.  Her friend gave her a peanut and she ate it.  In this moment the little girl remembered her allergy to peanuts.  The school nurse worked hard to reverse the allergic reaction but to no avail.  Certainly this young girl would have never given her a peanut if she had known the devastating results.

Brothers and sisters we must be careful in what we give others.  For example, a bad attitude can be deadly to those around us.  A word misspoken can be devastating to those around us.  Oh how I encourage you to pay close attention to what is most important.

As one reads Jesus words in Matthew 13 we discover afresh the value of the gospel.  I want to encourage you to memorize, meditate, and communicate this gospel to those around you.

For further study consider reading Romans 10.  Also Purchase a copy of Two Ways To Live, which is a wonderful resource that teaches you how to effectively share the gospel.  

Who is in the crowd?

January 12, 2012

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  Matthew 9:36

Last week I had the honor of attending a University of Kentucky Basketball game with my boys.  The honor for me was not in who was playing but in whom I got to spend time with.  While there Keith met one of the members of our church who said, “David Chrisman is here.”  Now David is my Sunday School teacher (and a good one).  Suddenly the crowd took on a new dimension as I started looking intently for my brother.

You see the fact is, you and I are often in crowds of difference sizes and different circumstances.  This morning I was amazed at Jesus approach with crowds, Matthew 9:35-10:25.  The bible gives the following commentary concerning his approach, “He was teaching, preaching, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and affliction.”  

Wow, Jesus must have never stopped.  His focus was clearly on the crowds.  Question, “What do you and I do when we find ourselves in a crowd?”  For me, my response is varied:  1) When I am at church, I proclaim the gospel  2) When I am with John’s basketball team, I seek to model the gospel with the goal of sharing the gospel.  3) When I am overseas or on a state mission trip, I seek to proclaim the gospel.  But there are other times when I fail to do the right things:  1)  When I am at the mall, I often focus on me.  2) When I am at an event, I think about getting out alive.  Sadly there are more times when I fail to do what I am supposed to do in a crowd.

The question that dogs me this morning is this, “What is the best thing I can do for the crowds of people who occupy this world?”  Here is Jesus response, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  

This very day, I must cry out to Jesus about people before I cry out to people about Jesus.  As I pray I seek to love the Lord more and more.  This love for God causes a follower of Christ to love those God loves.  This results in prayer for the family of God as well as our fellow-man.

If we wait until we get into a crowd to pray it will be too late.  It we wait until we are sitting in a crowd before we consider the crowd it is too late.  The fact is the crowds we meet are not always easy crowds (Matthew 10:16-25).  but if we have the compassion of Christ we will be prayed up and prepared to share the life-giving message of the gospel.

So, this day, I challenge you to check out the crowd before you get in the crowd.  How do we check out the crowd?  Discover what Jesus has to say about the crowd.  I promise you that your game plan will be different.

For further study consider, Ezekiel 34 and Proverbs 1.  Also a great resource entitled, “Just walk across the room,”  by Bill Hybels

 

The Souls Of Men

December 20, 2011

“Let him know that whoever brings a sinner back from his wandering will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”  James 5:20

Yesterday I had an opportunity to meet a young man in his twenties.  He was sitting in the booth behind me at lunch.  Keith had just left to go to work and I was finishing up my last bite of food when the young man commented about a football player being interviewed on ESPN.  I turned around and made eye contact with a young man who was full of life, hope, and dreams.  Our conversation began with where he was from and continued with where he was headed.  Finally the conversation turned to things of eternity.  Here was his confession, “I am a Jew who attends synagogue worship on high days.  But I confess that I do not faithfully attend.”  He went on to say, “He believed many religions were wonderful and he supported them all.”

In this moment, my heart sunk because here was a wonderful young man who was doing what James described, “a person who is wandering.”  My heart sunk even lower as I found myself, pushed for time because I had a hospital visit to make.  I left this young man with the following words, “I thank you for it was through your people that our Messiah came.  Please allow me to help you in any way I can on your journey.”

I don’t know how God will use this encounter, but I pray He will use it to open the door for the gospel.  The fact is, I believe every day is ordered by God with the intention of bringing glory to Him.

I want to challenge every follower of Christ to do the following as we approach the day we celebrate the coming of our Savior:  1) Brush up on your knowledge of the Gospel.  Spend time reading through Romans and spend time reciting a gospel presentation.  2) Ask the Lord to give you opportunity to share the gospel.  In this busy season there are many who will be willing to spend a few moments with a kind person who is filled with the love of Christ.  3) Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Divine appointments could be before you this very day.  4)  Celebrate Christ with brothers and sisters in Christ.  Many in the family of God are discouraged this season.  As you celebrate Christ, they will be encouraged as they look to the God of hope.