A Biblical “Be Mine”

Grace For The Journey

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February13PhotoForPastorsBlogABiblicalBeMine  Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  For some, it’s a day of love and romance.  For others, it’s a day of emptiness and loneliness.  And there are those who think of Valentine’s Day and sneer, “I could care less!”  Regardless of where this finds you today, there is a biblical “Be Mine” that I would like to call to attention, and it will meet you in your deepest place of longing and need for intimacy and love.

The Bible says in Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.”

Because we were made by God and for God, our deepest longings can only be satisfied when we are in an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  After reading the verse above and thinking about it for a moment, how does it make you feel to know you are God’s beloved and His desire is for you?

To be the object of the Almighty’s affection is to be the object of a love that is eternal, unwavering, and unconditional.

The Bible says in Ephesians 1:4-7, “For He chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”

Before God ever breathed life into Adam and Eve . . . He chose you to be His! He determined before the creation of the world to set His love on you and adopt you as His child. When Jesus told Nicodemus that God “so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), He was not speaking of some vague, large, indeterminate group of people. God so loved you that He gave Jesus to die . . . for you! And He determined to do so because of His great love for you; He did it freely, “in accordance with His pleasure and will.”   Indeed, if you have trusted in Christ’s atoning death on your behalf, you are your Beloved’s and His eternal desire has always been for you!

This stunning Gospel truth is what shatters our worthless idols and lesser loves that attempt to divide the affections of our heart.  Only the Gospel will deliver us from the countless cheap imitations we seek to use as replacements for the “love of God” and the “God of love.”

But this is not for you!

You were singled out and bought by the precious blood of the Lamb, who refused to come down from the cross to save Himself because He wanted to save you.  When God said, “Be Mine” to you through the work of Christ on the cross, He not only had already made room for you in heaven, He had made room for you in His heart!  To know that Jesus not only lives in your heart but that you live in His is to know a truth that truly transforms.  It transforms a bad day into a good day; a cold day into a hot day; a rainy day into a sunny day.

If you have a “special someone” to share Valentine’s Day with, praise God for such a good gift.  But whether you’ll be buying flowers and cards this week or not, you should praise God for an even greater gift: the gift of that “special Someone” who will never leave you nor forsake you, no matter what you do or don’t do.

Let these words from the apostle Paul to Timothy bring you a special blessing today: “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  When Jesus said to you, “Be Mine,” He meant what He said . . . and He meant it forever!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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What Do You Buy Without Money?

Grace For The Journey

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Hand counting money That’s a strange question, isn’t it? How do you buy without money? You may be thinking, “I can’t think of anything we can buy without money.” And you’re right; I can’t either . . . but God certainly can!

God declares in His Word, “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)

So how do you buy when you have no money? You can buy when God is providing all of the “cost,” which is the truth of the Gospel as it relates to our salvation. There are many who have perverted the Gospel by saying that God simply “makes up the difference” for those who don’t have enough holiness. They say that God bridges the gap between their good works and His perfect holiness by making up the difference in their merit. But is that really true?!

The “good news” of the Gospel wouldn’t be good news if all it did was make up the difference for those who did not have quite enough to get in to heaven. Why? Because we are broke. We are spiritually bankrupt. We have nothing! We are dead in our trespasses and sins, and our only hope is for God to provide His amazing grace to those who have no money but are invited to come, buy, and eat!

What a powerful truth when rightly understood! But it can only be understood by those who know their condition before Jesus shows up. If you are like most people, who feel they are not really that bad, and certainly not as bad as the really bad, then you believe you have what is necessary (the currency) to secure your mansion in heaven. But if you see yourself as the Bible sees you – as a great sinner in need of an even greater Savior – then you are invited to come and buy without any currency because your currency is to be found only in Christ.

Here is a news alert! We are not, as many people believe, basically good. We are bad to the core, because we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), which means we have absolutely no hope apart from a Savior who will pay our way, not merely make up any shortfall we are lacking. And that is exactly what Jesus did on a cross on a hill called Mt. Calvary! He paid the debt of our sin in full with His precious blood and secured for all those who accept His redemptive work our place in heaven.

So . . . how do you buy without money? You simply transfer your trust from your own personal merit to Jesus and receive His grace, rather than relying on your good works.

This is God’s Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Hope In The “Hard Place”

Grace For The Journey

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February11PhotoForPastorsBlogHopeForTheHardPlaces  When was the last time you found yourself in a “hard place,” not knowing which direction to turn? Perhaps you went to work, only to learn that you would be looking for a new job the next day. Maybe your doctor called you to give you bad health news personally . . . because the news was that bad. Possibly your family is in turmoil, with a child headed off to the far country or your spouse headed off to the couch.

To be sure, hard places are hard . . . hence the phrase “hard places.” But for the Christian, those places are not without hope, because whatever hard place you may find yourself in, you will find the Holy One there with you.  He is the friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17), the friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

God went with Moses into the hard place of Egypt to confront Pharaoh. God went with David into the hard place of taking on Goliath. God went with Peter into the hard place of his courtyard denials of Jesus. God went with the apostle Paul into the hard place of preaching to his religious friends.

Often we are brought into these hard places to wean our hard hearts away from self-love to Savior love. The hard places are designed to teach us to depend more on God than we do on ourselves. Moses had to depend on God when he stood before Pharaoh. David had to depend on God when he took on the giant. Peter had to depend on God to be redeemed out of his denials. And Paul had to depend on God when preaching to those who were religious but not right with God.

The words of the psalmist are words of comfort for all those who find themselves in the hard places of life – “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’ But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.  (Psalm 3:1-4)

The foes of the faithful are many, and they will stop at nothing to turn our hearts away from God. And that is why we need to remind ourselves of the Gospel every day – to be constantly reminded that we are never alone in the hard place. And as we dwell on the truths of the Gospel, we realize that Jesus took the hardest place of all in our place. He willingly and lovingly took our lash . . . our nails . . . our cross . . . our separation from the Father.

So whatever you are facing today, and no matter how high the odds are stacked up against you, remember that Jesus is your Hope in the hard place.

Let me close with these words recorded by the prophet Jeremiah, words which bring great hope in whatever hard place we may find ourselves …

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is God’s Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Peace is a Person

Grace For The Journey

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January9PhotoForPastorsBlogPeaceIsAPerson In a world marked by a lack of peace between nations, among countrymen, and even within families, the Gospel gives us the picture of the true peace that passes all understanding.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:14-18, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Here we see that peace is not a process; peace is a person, and His name is Jesus Christ! Without Christ there can simply be no peace. Conflict will never be ultimately resolved through some prescribed peace process, because peace is more than the mere absence of conflict and outward hostility. Peace is a “oneness,” a wholeness that will only be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible says we must have peace with God before we can have the peace of God (Job 22:21 – “Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace” … Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” … and Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation).”  Without Christ, every peace process inevitably breaks down and before long we find ourselves in the middle of a new battle.

Peace among nations will not last without the Prince of Peace in the center of it . . . just as peace within families simply cannot last without the Prince of Peace in the center of it.

Why? Because peace without the Person of Jesus Christ is built upon shadow and not the Substance. Shadows are superficial and short-lived and do not hold up under pressure. Only the Substance of the Savior can support the weight of unrest and conflict that lies deep within the heart of every human being and bring to it permanent peace. It is impossible to live in peace at any level – among nations, within families, or with yourself – without first having peace in our heart in the person of Jesus.

The Scripture we read earlier tells us that the One who is our Peace preached peace to those who were far away and those who were near (Ephesians 2:11-13). Simply put, His promise of peace is offered to EVERYONE! No one is beyond the reach of our Prince of Peace. God doesn’t play favorites; you don’t have to clean up or “get right” before this peace is in your possession. As Jesus said so succinctly, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew 9:12).

  • Have you veer off to the wrong side of the tracks? He will make you right!
  • Have you wandered off into a far country? He will bring you near!
  • Have you fallen down and out? He will lift you up and in!

His peace is available to anyone and everyone who trusts in Jesus, who gives us access to the Father by the Holy Spirit. If this finds you in the middle of a season of great peace, thank Him today! And if this finds you in the middle of a season of great unrest, conflict, or distress, go to Him today and receive His peace. Then go to others whom you know are struggling and tell them about the One who can bring permanent wholeness, regardless of the problems they are facing. You’ll be glad you did. They will be too!

Let’s focus on what Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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WHO ARE WE FOLLOWING

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February9PhotoForPastorsBlogFollowTheLeaderNotTheFollowers Have you ever wondered why sacred Scripture likens us to sheep? There are many reasons, of course, but today I’d like to set our focus on who we are following.

In July of 2005, an amazing and terrible thing happened in Istanbul, Turkey. High up on a mountainside, a herd of sheep were peacefully grazing while their shepherds sat nearby eating breakfast. Inexplicably, under no threat from weather or a predator, one of the sheep suddenly jumped over the side of the cliff. What happened next was as awful as it is instructive. One sheep after another followed the first, until almost the entire herd, approximately 1,500 animals, had jumped. About one-third of the sheep that went over the cliff died because they followed the followers and not the shepherd.

There may be no better word picture in all of Scripture than the image of men and women as sheep who are in desperate need of a Shepherd to lead and guide them. The prophet Isaiah put it this way, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). More than 700 years later, the apostle Matthew recalled that Jesus “had compassion” on the crowds of people who came to Him, “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

How often do we wander away from our Good Shepherd! And without His watchful eye and saving hand, we would simply hurl ourselves over cliff after cliff. It is our nature to follow the followers rather than our Leader. The world dangles pretty baubles in front of us, we see our friends and neighbors chasing after them, and we follow, thinking that the world’s enticements will give us the peace we so desperately crave.

The Bible paints a beautiful picture of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of our Good Shepherd in Psalm 231-6:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

We could spend the rest of our lives unpacking the blessing of just the first five words of this Psalm: “The LORD is my shepherd!” That truth conveys as much comfort as it does confidence. Sheep are totally dependent upon the shepherd, and nothing could be more true of the sheep belonging to the Good Shepherd. Our Good Shepherd cares for us, provides for us, redeems us, restores us, comforts us, heals us, and He has promised never to abandon us!

Now don’t miss the image of the “rod and staff” in the hands of the Good Shepherd. The rod was for fighting off any wild animals that might attack the sheep. And the staff was for gently but firmly guiding the flock in the direction the Shepherd intended.

To make this metaphor meaningful today, we can see our Good Shepherd using the “staff” of Scripture to guide us into His perfect plan and purpose for our lives. We are totally dependent upon our Shepherd, and we acknowledge that dependence by spending time prayerfully considering all He has to say to us in His Word. The best way to keep following the Leader – instead of the followers – is to get into and meditate in His Word every day.

About 2,000 years before the shocking deaths of hundreds of sheep in Turkey, another large group of sheep gathered on a mountainside in the Middle East . . . but these sheep stayed huddled close to their Shepherd, feasting eagerly on every word that came from the mouth of God. And during that glorious Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded them . . . and us:

“Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

The unbelieving world will trumpet that we need cash or cars or clothes or careers to make us content. But the Bible tells us  we should seek first the Lamb of God, who died for us to take away our sins. He is the Good Shepherd who lives today to guide, govern, and direct your every step down His paths of righteousness.

May the testimony of our lives be one of following our Leader and not the followers!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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People Pleasing Problems

Grace For The Journey

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February6PhotoForPastorsBlogPeoplePleaserOrGodPleaserHow can there be a problem with people pleasing, when we have been called by God to serve others . . . which obviously will be pleasing to them?  It becomes a problem when we think too much about the approval or disapproval of the people we are trying to please.  We all know this from experience.  Some know it professionally in trying to please their boss.  Others know it socially in trying to please their peers.  And still others know it relationally in trying to please their spouse, their friends . . . or even their children!

We are to come to this issue as “those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.”  We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.  The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6, “You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed – God is our witness.  We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else.”

The apostle Paul does a great job identifying one of our consistent struggles: being people pleasers.  He also teaches how to keep this from being our legacy: being a God pleaser.  In the words “not looking for praise from people,” Paul gives us the key that frees us from the bondage of people pleasing.  Paul knew the only approval he needed he already had in Jesus, so he did not need to seek it from people.  He knew this because he had been entrusted with the truths of the Gospel.  Do you know it too?

Paul refused to give people the power to break him by their rejection or build him up by their affection.  He knew what kind of lasting damage that can do.  There was a time in his life when this two-headed monster ruled his heart and shaped his life . . . but not anymore.  On the road to Damascus he found out just how much God had approved of him, and that was the only approval he needed from that day forward.  Knowing he could not be rejected by God empowered him to accept the rejection of others with a freedom and joy that could only come from a relationship with Jesus.

Paul came to this conclusion, “Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)  For Paul, “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7) was enough to know.

He came to know the approval of people was nothing compared to the approval of Jesus.

He came to know the affection of people was nothing compared to the affection of Jesus.

He came to know the applause of people was nothing compared to the applause of Jesus.

He had Jesus and Jesus had him, and because of this truth Paul considered everything a loss because of his Gospel gain!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Gospel Sanity

Grace For The Journey

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February5PhotoForPastorsBlogGospelSanity  When you think about life apart from the biblical narrative, nothing seems to make sense.  We all know something is radically wrong with us and the world around us, but we don’t know what it is . . . apart from the truth revealed in the pages of sacred Scripture.  Only the Gospel can make sense of what seems at times to be absolutely senseless.  Let’s take a brief look at some of the things that don’t make any sense apart from the truths of the Gospel.

Sin doesn’t make sense apart from the Gospel.  Why do we do the sinful stuff we do?  It is because we are sinners – both by nature and by habit.  Without the story of creation (all things made good by God) and the Fall in the Garden of Eden (all things made bad by man’s disobedience), sin doesn’t make sense.  We begin to try to categorize our inappropriate behaviors as something less than sin – a result of our environment or bio-chemistry.  The rationale goes, change the environment outside or inside (move or get medicine), and the person will ultimately change.  History has taught us these experiments have failed miserably.  Behavior can and often does change for a while, but heart transformation never happens apart from the Gospel.

Moral obligation doesn’t make sense apart from the Gospel.  In a messed up world, with a God who is off in some distant land, unconcerned and uninvolved, what obligation would there be for any moral concern on our part for what is good, just, and right?  Why would any of us care about hurting, lost, broken, oppressed, and marginalized people?  The survival of the fittest would seem to make the most sense.  But the Gospel tells us that God in Christ entered into this world to make all that had been crooked since the Fall straight once again.  And He did this at the most unimaginable cost to Himself.  Gospel sanity says we are to enter into the salvation that Jesus gives, expecting suffering along the way and ultimate success in the end, because what He began He will complete (Isaiah 46:9-11; Philippians 1:6).

Our overwhelming need for relationship doesn’t make sense apart from the Gospel.  God made us for relationship with Him and each other.  He said it was not good for us to be alone, and yet that is exactly what we tried to do in the Garden.  We looked away from God and each other and looked only at ourselves, which only resulted in fear, guilt, and utter brokenness.  But the Gospel tells us that we need a relationship with God, and through that relationship, God gives us a right relationship with Himself and each other.  Gospel sanity moves us in the direction of working to strengthen our community with God, those within the church, and the community outside of it.  Gospel sanity drives us to care for everyone because God cares for everyone.  Mercy, justice, and service become the marks of the Christian who is busily engaged in building community wherever people are to be found.

So . . . do you need a little Gospel sanity today?  Someone has said, “To know oneself, is above all, to know what one lacks.  It is to measure oneself against the Truth, and not the other way around.”  The Truth is that we all need the Gospel to keep Jesus at the center of our existence.

This is the only place where life is to be lived and the only way it makes sense – that is in Jesus!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Slow of Heart…and Still Loved

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February4PhotoForPastorsBlogSlowOfHeartWhat a treasure we find in the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They were identified by Jesus as “slow of heart” . . . and yet still loved!

Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ would suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

What Jesus said to these men on the road to Emmaus He says to us today.  How often are we slow of heart to believe the truths of the Gospel!

  • We seek blessing in our merit rather than in His mercy.
  • We seek favor in our good works rather than in His goodness.
  • We seek our identity in our work rather than in His finished work.
  • We seek our meaning in our ministry to Him rather than in His ministry to us.

The Gospel is the only thing that can disrupt our natural tendency to look to ourselves rather than our God for all that we hope for.  Notice in the passage just how patient our Lord was with the slow of heart in explaining the truths of the Gospel.  He was not angry with them.  He was not disappointed with them.  He was not short with them.  He loved them enough to walk with them and talk with them about the only thing that matters in both life and death: Jesus Himself.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 8:9-10, “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.” When we understand what Jesus gave up for us, we begin loosening our grip on everything smaller than God.  Had Jesus chosen to stay rich, we would have stayed poor . . . and gone down into the eternal torment of the pit of hell. But Jesus left the unimaginable treasures in heaven to make us His treasure.  The Bible says in Philippians 2:6-7, “Though He was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” and in Hebrews 2:10 the Bible tells us why He did that, “in order that He might bring many sons to glory.”

Living by the truths of the Gospel every day is the only cure for our naturally slow-beating hearts regarding the things of God.  Our heartbeat accelerates as we keep the Gospel in view – not only the suffering and sacrificial death of our Lord on the cross, but also all the promises and power of God’s continuing work in this world as Redeemer, Rescuer, and Restorer.  And on those days we find ourselves in the condition of slow of heart, we only need to remember we are still loved and treasured by our Lord!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Scandalous Grace

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February3PhotoForPastorsBlogScandalousGrace  I would like for us to look today at the Bible truths from Luke 7:37-50 about the parable of the two debtors (one who owed 500 denarii and the other who owed 50). The parable was shared by Jesus because of the reaction of Simon to the woman who came into his house, washed Christ’s feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed His feet, and poured expensive ointment over them.

There is much we can learn from the three characters in the narrative: The Pharisee, The Prostitute, and The Prince of Peace.

The Pharisee

The Pharisees were the religious leaders devoted to God.  The Hebrew form of the word Pharisee means separated ones . . . loyal to God.  The Pharisees were extreme, not only in following the Law of God, but in adding so much to it they were blind to the appearing of the Messiah, even though He was in their very midst – even in this man’s home!

Simon the Pharisee had invited Jesus to his house for a meal.  In those days, it was a common courtesy that guests would be greeted with a kiss when they arrived, their feet would be washed, and their heads anointed with oil.  Simon omitted all these courtesies for Jesus.  The honored guest was totally dishonored by the Pharisee.

The Prostitute

Notice this woman. She is known to the reader only as a “woman of the city who was a sinner.”  To be sure, we are all sinners by nature and practice.  But this woman was a sinner by profession.  She is the sinner Solomon warns young men about: “Her feet (direction of her life) go down to death and steps (her path, behavior) lay hold of hell.”  Great was her sin! Jesus, who never exaggerated, said her sins were “many” (Verse 47).  Yet she freely gave Jesus the common courtesies omitted by Simon.  She wet His feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, anointed them with ointment, and ceased not to kiss them.  Her godly sorrow for her life of sin was put on display for all to see.  The Pharisee rebuked her . . . but Jesus received her.

The Prince of Peace

Jesus received this sinner to His own detriment.  He was condemned by Simon for allowing such a sinner to touch Him.  He was always being condemned for the company He kept.  Consider this scene from another dinner table in Mark 2:15-17, “As he reclined at table in [Levi’s] house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him.  And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, ‘Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?’  And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

The one thing the sinful woman who dared enter Simon’s home needed – forgiveness of her sins – she received from Jesus.  Not only did Jesus receive her, He spoke up and defended her.  In front of the condemning crowd, she heard absolution pronounced by her Prince of Peace.

This passage from Luke is so rich in truth and comfort for those who see themselves as great sinners in need of an even greater Savior!

So . . . how do you see yourself today?  The more we peer behind the curtain of the Gospel, the more we see ourselves like the prostitute rather than the Pharisee.  We recognize that even “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6).  And the more we see ourselves like the prostitute, the less we have to pretend we are better than we are and the sooner we can step off the performance treadmill.  Jesus loves us just the way we are, but He also loves us so much as not to leave us there!

This is God’s Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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Shame…Skeletons…And Our Savior

Grace For The Journey

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February2PhotoForPastorsBlogShameSkeletonsAndTheSaviorWe have all experienced that sickly feeling of shame when someone found out something about us that we wanted to keep hidden away in the shadows.  We all have skeletons hanging in our closets which, if exposed, would lead to shame on steroids!

Yet there is One who knows everything about us and still loves us, unconditionally.

This is brought out very clearly in these words from the stunned Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this be the Messiah?’ (John 4:29)  They  have been recorded in sacred Scripture to give us comfort . . . and a dose of Gospel sanity.  Jesus knew everything about this woman who was living a sinful life.  And He knows everything about you.  There is nothing hidden from the view of our Lord (Hebrews 4:13); He even knows the sins you haven’t committed yet!

And yet, in spite of being fully known, we are completely loved.  With every right to condemn the Samaritan woman, Jesus offered her comfort that she could find in no other place.  This woman had been married and divorced . . . married and divorced . . . married and divorced . . . five times! And on the day she met Jesus at the well, she had apparently given up on the institution of marriage altogether and was living with a sixth man out of wedlock.

Jesus could have shamed her in a supernatural way.

But He did not.  Instead of shame He saved her from her sin-filled past.

He spoke to her of the living water that He had to offer.

Instead of sending this woman away on a guilt trip,

She went away filled with the joyful Gospel grace that transforms.

The Samaritan woman came for water from Jacob’s well; Jesus sent her home with living water that would quench her thirst for all eternity.  And He has done the same for all those who are His.  The Gospel frees us from shame and skeletons and sets us solidly on the Rock of our Salvation.

Think about this Gospel truth for a moment and then let the Lord help you to experience it and enjoy it for the rest of your life!

FULLY KNOWN . . . COMPLETELY LOVED!

Jesus knows our every thought and lustful longing.  He knows our every self-absorbed and self-centered deed.  He knows every gangrenous, gossipy, and graceless thought or word we have ever spoken.  And still He loves us in a way that always redeems and never ridicules.

The Samaritan knew for the very first time that she was fully known without the accompanying guilt and shame.  She came to the well at a time when she did not expect to meet anyone who would know her.  What a Gospel surprise she got that day!  She came to draw water and Jesus drew her to Himself.

Her skeletons were finally exposed, but instead of those old bones crackling they were crushed.  Her shame was given room to strike, and instead it was shut up for the rest of her life.  She was free! There was now no condemnation for her.  Jesus had set her free and she was free indeed.

So to it is for everyone who has trusted in Jesus. Our Savior covers the shame and crushes the skeletons.

Oh what a Savior we have in Jesus!

Oh what a Gospel He has given to us!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey … Rest in this eternal truth … AMEN!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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