Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You cannot go around it (Romans 5-6)

October 30, 2020

 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, Romans 5:3

If you have ever traveled through Atlanta Georgia you know there is no easy route. One cannot go around the traffic. According to your time of travel, you could go through with a little stress or a lot.

When I read Romans 5-6, I think about the great truth of God’s blessing given into our lives because of grace. When Paul wrote, “we have peace with God,” I find myself praising Him for the work of Christ on my behalf. Jesus did not go around the cross. Jesus died in my place. He demonstrated the importance of going through. Here is what Paul wrote:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

I am so excited to tell you how much Jesus loves you. I am also excited to tell you how much Jesus is going to grow you in your walk with Him. Jesus is a great producing God (5:3). How does God produce growth in your life?

Paul writes, “through suffering.”

I can hear your question: But wait Pastor, does not God’s peace come with a guarantee that I will not have problems?

Brothers and sisters, God does give peace and there is a guarantee of continued peace. But the peace is not a free zone away from the problems and pains of this life.

God gives us peace in the midst of the spiritual traffic jams of life. You and I cannot go around these. God is producing great things in us as we go through (with Him) suffering.

Paul informs us of three things God is producing:

  1. He is producing people who live life in the midst of traffic jams. It is the person who endures trials who makes a difference in the world.
  2. He is producing people of character. Character is who we are when no one is watching.
  3. He is producing people who live with confidence (hope) knowing the traffic jams of life are not God’s hold-ups, they are God’s hook-ups leading to effective witness for God.

John Maxwell says that we are to cease allowing our trials to work us over and we are to become people who take our trials and make them work for us.

This is what God is producing. Brothers and sisters, I find two keys to effectiveness when you come to the traffic jams of life:

  1. Make sure you are always at peace with God. This means you are in constant fellowship, consistent obedience, and complete surrender to His purposes in life.
  2. Make sure you are pursuing all that God is producing in your spiritual traffic jams. God is making you into a diamond for Him.

Father thank you for the traffic jams of life. May I cease praying about how to go around them and may I center my prayer in embracing the productivity that comes from these moments of life.

What did you do? (Romans 3-4)

October 29, 2020

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:7-8

Have you ever found yourself distracted in prayer by the enemy? I from time to time find myself being bombarded by memories of past sins when I am praying. I used to wonder where those thoughts came from. But no longer because I know the enemy plants those thoughts in my mind.

But now, I have the great truths of God’s Word to both shield my faith and to fight with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

In Romans 3-4 Paul offers to us some of the greatest doctrines of Salvation. We are introduced to such great truths. We come to understand Total Depravity, Justification, Redemption, Propitiation, and Forbearance to name just a few.

These doctrines together teach us about the gift of grace we have received and how must it cost God for Him to freely offer it to us (4:25):

25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Because of God’s work on our behalf our sins are no longer remembered in Heaven. Our record is clean in Heaven. We have been given the righteousness of Christ. This is all a gift of God received by faith.

By faith we both repent (of our sins) and we believe (His payment is sufficient for our sins). Here are 4 things I remind the Devil will he plants in my mind the memory of my past sins:

  1. I am forgiven and I give all credit to God, 3:27.
  2. I am rejoicing in his presence letting him know, I am forgiven, 4:5-6.
  3. I reject his attempt to rob my peace. I have the peace of God!
  4. I will share my story with even the vilest of sinners. Satan you are a defeated enemy.

Join me today in putting the enemy in his place!!!

Will God ever give up on You? (Romans 1-2)

October 28, 2020

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, Romans 1:24

The book of Romans without doubt is the most life-changing book in the Bible. Many of the churches greatest leaders came to know Christ as Lord and Savior as a result of studying the book of Romans.

If you follow our ministry you know we are presently walking through the book of Romans in a series entitled “The Search.” If you would like the book I have written for this series you can order the book at our website: http://www.jacksonfbc.com.

For the next couple of weeks we will be examining this book in our devotions. Today we consider Romans 1-2.

I want to focus on one section from chapter 1. In that section (1:18-32) Paul is proving the universal guilt of all mankind before God. Paul’s goal is not to condemn but to lead people (all people) to cry out to God for His salvation.

Three times in the text Paul writes: “For God gave them over…”

  • God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts, 1:24.
  • God gave them over to the passions of their hearts which were dishonorable, 1:26.
  • God gave them over to a debased mind, 1:28.

Brothers and sisters, is Paul teaching here (these three times) that God gives up on people? In the context of what we are reading Paul is teaching us that part of God’s wrath upon humanity is to allow (give over) people to do what they want to do in life.

In verses twenty-four God allows people to engage in the lusts of their hearts. As people continue to rebel God allows people to indulge in the perversions of their hearts. Finally, if people continue to rebel, God allows these people to follow the dictates of their darkened mind.

However, this does not mean that God has given up on people. In chapter 2, Paul writes that God’s kindness (His withholding permanent judgment) is meant to lead people to repentance (2:4).

Every day God waits for people to wake up. Every day God is at work leading people to see the evil of their deeds. Every day God is calling people out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Paul gives us this truth in II Corinthians 4:4-6

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[a] for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

I am so thankful God never gives up on me and I am so thankful God has never given up on you. Here are three helpful reminders for you today:

  1. Reject the feelings, from the enemy, of things never changing.
  2. Resolve to keep sharing, keep praying, and to keep believing in the miracles of God.
  3. Stay on go with God being ready to share the amazing story of God’s gospel with all people.

Many Sleepless Nights (II Corinthians 11-13)

October 27, 2020

27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. II Corinthians 11:27

The title of today’s blog is one I am sure you can identify. I know many of you are seasoned veterans with sleepless nights. I once knew a person who boasted that they always sleep like a baby every night. Honestly, I did not believe them until I discovered years later that this person took sleeping pills every night. I wonder, are sleeping pills the answer for our sleepless nights?

As Paul addresses the church at Corinth, he writes about his personal trials in ministry (11:23-33). Often, when reading Paul we forget all that he went through in ministry. We only see his courage and the success of his ministry. Here is something to consider: His ministry cost him many sleepless nights.

Here are 4 thoughts concerning ministry:

  1. Ministry is an honor. Paul often boasts of what God blessed him with in calling him to ministry. We see and example in 12:1.
  2. Ministry demands proper perspective. “it is for the sake of Christ, 12:8.”
  3. Ministry is defined by lot’s if prayer or little prayer. Paul was a man of prayer.
  4. Ministry success hinges on the power of God.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 12:9

Please allow me to offer you one more thought concerning ministry:

MINISTRY HAS MANY SHAPES AND FORMS

Sometimes ministry takes the form of soul winning. God has called each of us to this ministry. Sometimes ministry takes the form of serving others. The greatest example of this before my life was my grandmother who for over ten years gave her every waking moment to the constant care of my grandfather as he battled 10 years of life without knowing even the people around him.

I have never met anyone who was more committed to her ministry than my grandmother. I will never be able to thank her enough for what she taught me during those years. Each day she experienced II Corinthians 12:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Here is the rest of the verse and also verse 10

 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Did anyone need this today? I did. Maybe you are facing trials through sleepless nights. Know this, God is at work in you in ways the weak could never know. Know this, God is using you as an example before others. Know this, nothing is wasted with God. He is up to something big in your sleepless nights.

Trust the truth of II Corinthians 12:8-10.

I love you and I am praying for you!!!

The Pantry Is Almost Empty (II Corinthians 9-10)

October 26, 2020

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. II Corinthians 9:10-11

Imagine how difficult it would be if you had only enough food in your pantry for this evenings meal. Now, for those of us who have access to a market and we have money to purchase food, this is not a difficult circumstance. But imagine if you did not have access to a market and you had no money, then it would be a different circumstance all together.

In the Old Testament there was a widow who faced this very difficult circumstance. Here pantry was almost empty. Her story is recorded in I Kings 17:8-16. I have included her story below:

Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

If you took time to read her story you already know this widow was only asked to take out of her pantry what she had and to share part of it with the Prophet Elijah. This seems easy enough until you realize she had no way and no place to find more food. There was a drought in the land and what food there was would have been beyond her ability to buy.

But the man of God said to her, “do not fear.” The man of God was asking her to evidence faith in God. If she would sacrifice a little, God would supply more than she could imagine.

Question: Who is this God that ask’s us to sacrifice?

  1. He is the God who sacrificed His own Son so that we could be saved, II Cor. 8:9.
  2. He is the God who supplies all of our need, II Cor. 9:9.
  3. He is the God who supplies our seed for sowing and blesses what we sow to produce abundantly, II Cor. 9:10.
  4. He is the God who imparts to us a generous heart, II Cor. 9-11.

The description of God given by Paul in II Corinthians is the reality of the very God the widow experienced in I Kings 17. By her faith she evidenced a generous heart which was rewarded with the overflowing supply of her pantry.

When you look in the pantry of your life, what do you see? Do you see barely enough for you or do you see enough to be generous with?

This morning my personal prayer was that God would be in charge of not only my tithe but also in everything I have. Oh how I pray all you have belongs to God.

Faireness (II Corinthians 8-9)

October 23, 2020

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness, II Corinthians 8:13

I listened with great interest as the witness with great emotion pleaded with the judge to do one thing. The judge listened with patience as this man over and over asked, for a fair verdict. But there was something the witness was not telling. To the witness fairness was all about what he viewed as being fair. In the end the judge ruled against him because the code of the law had a different view of fairness.

Question: What is fairness?

In II Corinthians 8, Paul uses the word fairness to clarify how the people in Corinth were to do their part in sharing the weight of the need in the Body of Christ. The King James Version of the Bible translates the word fair as “equality.” The Greek Word is speaks of being in the state of all things equal.

A little boy stood outside the fence looking inside the fence at a group of boys playing on the playground. He thought to himself, there is no fairness in this world.

Brothers and sisters, I agree. In this word system, it is all about self. It is self-promotion, self-gratification, and self-exclusive living. The fall out of such a system is the unfairness we experience in this world. The world system propagates fairness only from their personal view-points.

The only solution for our mess is to find an answer outside of the this World System we live in. Paul writing to the church at Corinth found the solution. The solution was and is Jesus:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Was Jesus treated fairly? The answer is no. Jesus gave up His place and His peace in Heaven to come here and suffer in my place so that I could have His peace with God (II Cor. 5:21).

Jesus was willing to be treated unfairly so that you and I would be able to receive from Him forgiveness of sins. Is this fairness? Oh how I hope you grasp this truth today. To be forgiven speaks of letting you go free because someone else paid for your sin (Isaiah 1:18; Eph. 1:7; I John 1:7).

Oh, my friend, when this truth becomes a part of you it radically affects your life. The churches in II Corinthians 8:1-5 had been radically impacted. They had little but they gave what they had and they sacrificed beyond what they had. They gave so others could survive. This was not fairness. This was the love of Christ.

I hope you get this. The love of Christ in us makes us want to love others beyond fairness. I am not praying for fairness today. I am praying for a faith like Christ.

A Vital Assignment (II Corinthians 5-6)

October 22, 2020

19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. II Corinthians 5:19

Recently I began to notice a change in a person’s Facebook post (no one you would know). I noticed they had moved from a positive outlook to a very discouraged outlook. I noticed last week that this person has become very withdrawn in their life. Just yesterday their post broke my heart because it revealed how close they are to a breaking point.

Throughout the years of ministry I have many times worked with people who have fallen into deep despair. Many times, upon loving inspection, I have found that such people have slipped into patterns where they have sought to find their purpose, satisfaction, and peace in the pursuits of this life. I have failed in this as well.

The words of Jesus ring true here: “in this world you will have tribulation,” John 16:33.

As fellow Christ-followers, you and I know following Christ is not a blank check for a care-free life. Paul wrote about his life in chapter 6 of II Corinthians. Here is what he wrote:

but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Brothers and sisters, its easy to fall into traps that leave us deeply discouraged. However, if we will daily focus on the truth given to us by God, we can live victoriously in the midst of a tough world.

Below I have listed three truths that lead us to victory:

  1. Establishing peace with God leads us to to experience the peace of God. Romans 5:1-3

This peace is established by our receiving Jesus work on our behalf before God. This is the work of Christ called reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18-19). Jesus took our sin upon Himself and paid the debt we owed God (II Cor. 5:21). Jesus places His righteous in us when we repent and believe on Him (II Cor. 5:17).

When this happens, we now are freed from the past and we are new creations who see clearly for the first time and we learn to walk in newness of life.

2. Understanding God’s purpose for life leads to purposeful living.

According to II Corinthians 5:15 I am no longer focusing on myself. I know God meets every need I have. I know God is with me (5:8). I know God has great work for my life (5:9). I live intentionally knowing that I have a vital assignment from God (5:19b).

I am called to tell other what Jesus has done for me and what He has done for them. God has entrusted us with this assignment. This is why we have so much trouble in the world. Our enemy wants to keep us away from our assignment. He wants us to fail and he wants us to lose focus.

3. God empowers His people to fulfill their purpose.

You have to see II Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

The Holy Spirit has been given into our lives for courage, confidence, and for conquering our enemies. The Holy Spirit works with us to accomplish our purpose (II Cor. 6:1).

Brothers and sisters, if my friend will seek God’s inner peace and if my friend will focus on God’s purpose, they will find the power to come out of despair and they will find the power to live with a true fulfilling purpose.

And by the way, so will you and I.

What Ministry are you in? ( II Corinthians 3-4)

October 21, 2020

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God,[a] we do not lose heart. II Corinthians 4:1

Brothers and sisters, I want to begin the blog today by saying, thank you for being in the ministry. Yes, I am writing and thanking you for all you do in the ministry. Now, I know you are pushing back in humility and maybe in disbelief. I can hear you saying, pastor I am not in the ministry.

But wait brothers and sisters, I protest your push back. As Paul begins II Corinthians 4, he is continuing to defend his ministry.

For a moment let me remind you that Paul was called of God to be a minister to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). Paul had been faithful through many years of carrying the gospel throughout the world of his day. Back in chapter three we gain insight to the success of Paul’s ministry:

  1. Paul’s success came because of God’s enablement, 3:4-6.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Paul took zero credit. He knew it was because of Christ.

2. Paul’s success came through God’s enlightment, 3:14-15.

 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one[c] turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

Oh this is so enlightening for our ministries. But there is one more reason we find in chapter 4:

3. Paul’s success came through God’s extension, 4:15.

15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Oh how these chapters touch my soul. I am so thankful that Paul teaches us how to avoid the trap of pride in ministry. Only Christ made Paul successful. I am so thankful that Paul encourages us to avoid the dungeon of despair. God will and does extend the kingdom in His own time.

As I wrote the last sentence my heart immediately was turned to each of you who are in ministry. I thought of the brother who is carrying for his sick wife. He is in the ministry. I think about the wife who has lived her life for many years in front of her lost husband. She is in the ministry. I am thinking about the student who comes to church by themselves. He or she is in the ministry.

Oh how important this is: God’s call in ministry is the ministry of transformation. As we serve the Lord, He enables us, He enlightens others, and He extends the kingdom through us.

I praise God and I give thanks for each of you who are in ministry!!!

Who Are You Relying On?( II Corinthians 1-2)

October 20, 2020

9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  II Corinthians 1:9

In the classic western movie, Rooster Cogburn, the lead character is a salty old peace officer who is in search of a murderer who never believes he is wrong. At one point the murderer asks a question that we are all familiar with. Here is the question: Why does everything bad happen to me?

I wonder, do you sometimes feel this way? Maybe you are like Paul in giving your best for the work of the Lord (1:5-6)? Maybe it seems the harder you try to serve God the harder it gets?

Certainly Paul had his share of hard times. However, you do not find Paul asking, why does everything bad happen to me. We do not read that Paul was feeling unfairly treated, being punished, or he was being hindered from his calling. No, Paul understood that all he faced was Gods way of strengthening his dependance on God.

What Paul describes in II Corinthians 1:8-11 is the season when Paul became totally aware of his inability apart from God. Listen to me brothers and sisters, every time I fail it is because I tried to go it alone in life. Every time I stink up my day, it is because I am making the decisions when I should be simply caring out God’s decisions.

I love II Corinthians 1 because it reminds me of my need to place all my weight on God who is the Father of all mercy and the God of all grace!!!

3 takeaways for us today:

  1. A prayer-less life is a pointless life.
  2. A prideful life is a powerless life.
  3. A prayerful and humble life is powerful in Christ.

Its Time For A Change (I Corinthians 15-16)

October 19, 2020

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, I Corinthians 15:51

I am so ready for the election to be over. These were the zealous words spoken by a sister in Christ who is tired of all the mess of 2020. Maybe you feel the same way? Consider this: Regardless of who wins, America and the world still is in desperate need of change.

The change I am thinking about is the change that is brought about by the gospel. In Paul’s day many people in the city of Corinth experienced such a change when Paul preached the gospel (15:1-2). Many people received the gospel. Now that Paul was writing a letter to the church, he commends them for still standing in the truth of the gospel. It was the gospel that was saving these people. Literally they were changing.

But we know that this was not everyone in the church at Corinth. Paul has been confronting those who had taken their eyes off the gospel. Paul summarizes his confrontation by writing, “Stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, and let all that you do be done in love.”

Brothers and sisters, those who truly receive the gospel experience a change that effects every part of their daily lives.

As some of you know, I have been taking some days off to rest, reconnect with family, and to refuel my mind in the work of the gospel. Each day I have been reminded of the daily changes I need and our world needs.

In these days I have thought of the:

  • many changes that have come since I first surrendered my life to Christ. I give Him all the praise.
  • many changes that still need to happen in my life. I am daily repenting and I am daily resolving to walk in the Lord.
  • many changes that God is preparing me to walk into. I rejoice that He is much at work in the world.

On this Monday I proclaim to you, the gospel works-never move away from it. On this Monday I confess to you, you and I must daily submit to the gospels work. When we do, we will be living examples of what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:58

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.