An Equal Share To All The Saints

Grace For The Journey

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Today is known as “tax day.” That’s the day our taxes are due. We pay our taxes because in God’s economy He has instituted government as a means of protecting our freedoms and rights. Some view taxation as a means to level the playing field and distribute the wealth more evenly. Sometimes we have a tendency to apply that thinking to our own lives. We tend to weigh the efforts of others on our own scales and believe we know best what everyone deserves. In our human economy, merit is the measure of what is given out. Certain levels of performance demand certain levels of compensation. In other words, those who do more get more!

But in God’s economy, everything has been turned upside down. Take a look at this wonderful example from the Old Testament of God’s mercy overriding man’s merit, which is revealed in David’s battle against the Amalekites . . .

“David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Ravine. They came out to meet David and the people with him. As David and his men approached, he greeted them. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, ‘Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.’

David replied, ‘No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to use forces that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.’” (1 Samuel 30:21-24)

This should be a wonderful word of comfort to you today, regardless of your station in God’s kingdom. I often think about those “senior” saints who simply no longer have the physical vitality to engage in the more physical aspects of expanding God’s kingdom, but who are continually on their faces before our God, asking the Lord to protect His saints and equip them to continue to grow His kingdom. Our congregation at First Baptist is blessed to have many such warriors of the Word who spend hours before the Throne of God! Who is more valuable in the expansion of the kingdom of God: those who are actually in the battle or those who “stayed with the supplies” and guarded them? In the eyes of both David and God, those who were “too exhausted” to participate in the battle were every bit as much true soldiers as those who actually engaged in the fight.

Make no mistake, not everyone can be on the front lines. But everyone can and must engage in the battle – doing his or her individual part, as God has ordained.

Perhaps you are a saint who has been providentially prevented from participating in the actual physical work of expanding God’s kingdom because of . . .

  • Ability
  • Old age
  • Injury
  • Sickness & Disease
  • Circumstance

What a wonderful truth to take with you today! An equal share for all the saints, regardless of their station in the battle to expand God’s kingdom.  Thank God for His grace which sufficiently supplies all that we need to know Him and to serve Him!

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

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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Divine Decision-Maker

Grace For The Journey

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Need Direction  Jesus is the way  John 14:6  When faced with important decisions in life, what is the formula you use or template you put over your decisions to help you make them?  Now, if that question sounds strange, it’s likely you’re making some strange decisions and getting some very strange results!  Let’s take a look at the formula Jesus used, not only in His wilderness experience, but as a way of life.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 4:1-11, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan!  For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”

Regardless of the decision that needed to be made, Jesus always weighed it against the Word of God.  Decisions to teach, minister, heal, judge, justify, rebuke, restore, speak up, or remain silent . . . He based every decision on the truth of sacred Scripture.  And when facing the temptations offered by the devil – temptations which are common to us all – Jesus went to the fountain of Truth, God’s Holy Word, the Bible, in deciding how to respond.

The first temptation brought Jesus to a point of decision regarding meeting the physical need of hunger.  Clearly, Jesus was hungry after a forty-day fast.  There was nothing wrong with satisfying His hunger, except for the fact that the devil was suggesting the wrong way to satisfy it.  Our Lord refused to use His divine power to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. Instead, He surrendered fully to the will of His Father and responded with, IT IS WRITTEN!

The second temptation brought Jesus to a point of decision regarding the human emotions of pride, presumption, and protection.  The devil sought to cause Jesus to question whether God would protect Him if He threw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple.  Would Jesus put God to the test?  Or would He simply trust Him?  Once again, Jesus surrendered fully to the will of His Father and responded with, IT IS WRITTEN!” 

The third and final temptation brought Jesus to a point of decision regarding the psychological needs for significance and personal importance.  The devil offered the whole world to Jesus and all the trappings of significance and personal importance if He would simply bow down to him.  The divine decision-making formula of our Master would not allow idolatry to interfere with His passion and purpose in life.  For the third time, Jesus surrendered fully to the will of His Father and responded with, IT IS WRITTEN!” 

Jesus used the Word of God as the template He would place over every decision. When faced with the question of whether or not God would meet His needs, Jesus trusted in the faithfulness of God by resting in the promises of God.  He relied on the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) to make every decision; and He was victorious every single time.

One final point must be made.  It is not enough to simply know the Word of God and be reading our Bibles.  Satan knew Scripture and even quoted it back to Jesus.  The devil was in the Word of God, but the Word of God was not in him!  The Word of God must be in us if we are going to profit by it.  We must be seized by the Word and surrendered to it. When we are, we will be able to confidently weigh that decision by the Word of God – knowing that God has our best interest in heart and that He knows best what is best for us!  

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

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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Against All Odds

Grace For The Journey

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13AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogAgainstAllOdds  When was the last time you had the odds stacked so high against you that the possibility of coming out on top seemed to be, well, impossible?  Today we will learn at a lesson from a man whose name means “Mighty Warrior.”  His story is recorded in the Book of Judges and he is also mentioned in the Hebrews 11 “Faith Hall of Fame.”  You may remember his name: Gideon, one of the twelve Judges selected by God to act as a temporary leader for the Israelites.

The Bible says in Judges 7:1-8, “Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.  The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.  And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, everyone who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.”

The Almighty is in the business of snatching victory out of the jaws of certain defeat – more accurately, you could say creating victory.  The Bible is full of stories where God’s people faced odds that were stacked so highly against them that when victory was achieved, the only possible explanation was that God was responsible for it . . .

  • He did it when the children of Israel overcame the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.
  • He did it several time during the journey of His people from Egypt to the Promised Land.
  • He did it when the children of Israel entered the Promised Land and encountered the fortified city of Jericho.
  • He did it when the shepherd boy David agreed to do something the entire Israelite army refused to do: fight   the giant Goliath.
  • He did it when Elijah faced the 400 prophets of Baal.
  • And God did it again here.  Gideon started with 32,000 men to battle against the Midianite army of 135,000 men (Judges 8:10), but God told him he had too many soldiers!lren of Israelites were trapped between Pharaoh’s approaching army and the Red Sea. He did it when the children of Israel entered the Promise Land and faced the fortified city of Jericho.

I’d say the odds were already stacked steeply against Gideon (135,000 to 32,000 – roughly 4-to-1), but God didn’t see it that way.  God instructed Gideon to find out who was “fearful and trembling” and send them home.  As soon as he did, 22,000 men scurried away, leaving Gideon with 10,000 troops.  Now the odds were much worse, roughly 13-to-1, but God still wasn’t finished stacking the odds against Gideon.  The Lord informed Gideon that He would test the men at the water.  When the test was over, only 300 men were left in Gideon’s “army.”  God had whittled Gideon’s force down from 32,000 to 300 and was preparing to send them into battle against a Midianite army that was 135,000 strong—unimaginable odds of roughly 450-to-1.  And … When the dust settled, God settled any question as to the cause of victory for Gideon: it was all of God!  As the Lord of hosts said to Zerubbabel, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

So . . . where in your life do the odds seem to be stacked high against you?  College acceptance?  Job promotion?  Too much month at the end of the money?  A prodigal child who has been a long time off in a far country?  A marriage on the rocks because you spent more time planning for the wedding than you did working on the marriage?  Your doctor wants to see you for consultation after receiving the test results?  There are many more examples, but the point is the same: God is in the business of bringing victory out of defeat – not because we deserve it or have earned it in any way, but simply because we are His.

Bought by the blood of the Lamb, you are precious in the sight of God.  Whatever you are facing today, you are not facing it alone.  Jesus said He would never leave you nor forsake you, regardless of the odds that are stacked against you.  Remember, God may simply be stacking those odds to make it clear to you and to the watching world that it is only God who can achieved the victory.

As the Lord would say to Jehoshaphat: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15-16). He has already won your eternal victory; Christ announced it with a victory cry that split the rocks open!

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

 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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Christian Cover-Up!

Grace For The Journey

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10AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogChristianCoverUp  There is a “cover-up” in life that is most attractive to the Christian. Now, I know the word cover-up doesn’t sound at all virtuous; it makes one think of political scandals, and probably raises some doubts in your mind about where I am going with this! But after you read today’s thoughts, I think you will agree that cover-up is one of the most beautiful words a Christian can utter, one that puts on display the lovely fruit of the Gospel. Let’s take a look . . .

The Bible says in Proverbs 17:9, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

The dictionary definition of “cover-up” is “a concerted effort to keep an illegal or unethical act or situation from being made public. It is also something used as a loose outer garment.”

The Christian cover-up, however, is something altogether different. It is living out the Gospel by covering (forgiving and forgetting, rather than repeating and putting on display) the wrongs, faults, or sins of another. And this is something we need much more of in the church today!

I want to be clear about my meaning here: I am not talking about hiding some sin or offense that must be exposed in order to protect the health, safety, and spiritual well-being of others. Proverbs 17:9 does not suggest anything of the kind!  What we are being taught in this verse is a Christian cover-up that advances the cause of God’s kingdom and blesses those who belong to it.

Instead of rehashing old sins that have been committed against us, we are to “cover” them with forgiveness. Instead of informing others of someone’s offense in order to pay the offender back for his or her wrong, we are to cover them with love that builds up. How often we cover up our refusal to cover the faults and sins of others under the guise of seeking prayer for them. Far too many Christians use this technique to engage in the sin of gossip.

The Gospel frees us from the need to pay back or get revenge. We know that our Lord has used a cover-up in our lives by forgiving our sin. Our sins are covered in the blood of the Lamb. And not only is this a wonderful reality, but in the process God has forgotten every one of them! God never brings our past iniquities back up to the surface after He has hurled them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). God never shoves all the times we messed up into our face. He has put all those sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17b), never to be seen again.

Many of you have memorized the wonderful words of 1 John 1:9-10 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is God’s remedy for bringing our sins under the covering blood of the Lamb. Repent of our sin, confess it to God, and then forget it!

When we placed our trust in Christ as our Savior, the blood of the Lamb of God, which takes away all the sins of all who place their trust in Him, has not only covered up all of our sins, but has carried them away forever . . . just as the scapegoat described in Leviticus 16:8-20 was sent out into the desert, never to be seen again. Our Lord never dredges up all of the times we have fallen short of the perfect mark of holiness set before us (Matthew 5:48).

So when you and I call these transgressions up in our own memories – and we all do this – we can know for certain that it is not the Spirit of God calling these sins to our mind; it is the world, the flesh, or the devil doing it. Corrie Ten Boom beautifully commented on Micah 7:19 by saying, “When we confess our sins, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says ‘No Fishing Allowed!’”

The Gospel frees us from our past and the Gospel frees us from bringing up the past of others. This is the Christian cover-up we could all use a little more of each day!

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

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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Later On, However…

Grace For The Journey

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9AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogLater On, However  I have a great word of comfort for you today.  Do you find yourself in a season of difficulty or discouragement?  Are the storm winds blowing your way?  Is God disciplining and/or pruning you for greater growth?  The writer of Hebrews tells us that, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful.  Later on, however, it produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, emphasis added).

Think about that for a moment- “Later on, however.”  How sweet are those words to the tried and tested, tired and triumphant Christian!  There is a special blessing that can only be experienced “later on.”

LATER ON, HOWEVER . . . after the storm we find calm.

LATER ON, HOWEVER . . . after the rain we find sunshine.

LATER ON, HOWEVER . . . after the battle we find rest.

LATER ON, HOWEVER . . . after the night we find day.

LATER ON, HOWEVER . . . after physical death we find eternal life!

Regardless of what trial we are currently experiencing, God promises to bring us to the other side of it!  When God says, “Later on, however,” He is telling us that the best is yet to come.  All may seem lost today; “Later on, however,” we will experience victory.

We know this to be true because we know the One who said it is Truth.  The One who says, “Later on, however,” superintends all of life, regardless of how dark and dismal the day becomes.  Not a bird falls to the ground apart from His knowledge and will (Matthew 10:29).  When we forget this truth we become practical agnostics, living lives of hopelessness and helplessness.

“Later on, however” is the fuel that enable us to move forward regardless of the cost or circumstance.  What are you facing today?  Struggles in school?  Obstacles at the office?  Miscommunication in your relationships?  Disappointment in your limitations?  If Jesus is on the throne of your life, count it all joy, because “later on” every trial, every disappointment will produce a harvest of deep peace and sweet rest.

Henri Nouwen rightly observed, “Those who dream of better things are not those who hate what is now, but who love the present enough to seek its transformation through the presence and power of Christ.”  To be sure, life is hard on this side of heaven.  But Jesus is in the process of transforming everything and making all things new, and that includes you (Romans 8:28).

The Bible says we must lose to win; give to get; become empty to be filled; and die to live.  If our Lord received a crown of thorns, should we expect to receive a crown of glory?  Yes, we should . . . “Later on, however!”

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth

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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How To Face Your Fears

Grace For The Journey

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8AprilPhotoHowToFaceYourFears  Fear is a fact of life. We fear everything from the dark to death . . . from loud sounds to strange environments . . . and, those things that go bump in the night! But the Bible provides a solution – we can face our fears, and it is done through a single word: FAITH! When our hearts are filled with faith, there is no room left for fear to take up residency.

I first heard this acronym from the great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. Zig liked to say that FEAR is nothing more than . . .

F alse

E vidence

A ppearing

R eal

One of the best examples of this in all of sacred Scripture is found in the experience of the Israelites when they were spying out the land God had promised to them. When the spies came back with their reports, we clearly see just how much their fear caused “false evidence to appear real.”

We read about it in Numbers 13:26-28, “They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: ‘We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.’”

A portion of their report was true: the giant descendants of Anak were indeed living in the Promised Land, and the sons of Anak were feared by the Israelites. But what followed was not true. It was false evidence that merely appeared real, because fear took the place in their hearts that should have been occupied by faith. God had promised to give Israel possession of the land, but the spies said: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:31-33)

So . . . what “giants” stand in your way today keeping you from entering your Promised Land? In your profession? In your marriage? At school? In your single walk with Christ?

Remember these words God spoke to the Israelites because they were spoken to you as well: “Be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; He will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the LORD has promised you.” (Deuteronomy 9:3)

This is a promise for you also! Charles Spurgeon said it beautifully: “No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, He has said to all. When He opens a well for one, it is that all may drink.” Stand in the strength of this well of fearless wisdom today. Hide this truth in your heart and whenever fear begins to rear its ugly head, faith will remove it at once. The following acrostics for FAITH should show us where our focus must be …

F orwarding         F eeling         F orsaking        F irm trust in God, knowing my life’s in His care,

A ll                          A fraid            A ll                       A lways looking to Jesus for answers to prayer

I ssues                  I                       I                            I nto His loving arms my soul I commit,

T o                         T rust             T rust                  T rusting Him, for all things, as I walk in His Way,

H eaven               H im                H im                     H is keeping power like a fortress each day.

Faith leads us into the arms of Jesus …

That is what the Bible declares in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

.This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth

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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Know Thyself!

Grace For The Journey

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7AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogKnowYourself  In working with people for many years it never ceases to amaze me just how self-deluded people really are – and I put myself at the top of that list!  The world cannot figure out why people are so messed up.  Oh, there are plenty of highbrow theories; the “experts” speak of how we are influenced by the environment and biochemistry.  Granted, these factors affect all of us, but these are not the root causes of why we are so mess up.  Only the Word of God paints an accurate picture of the real reason why. In a word … it is SIN!

  • Sin is deceptive
  • Sin is deceitful
  • Sin is demanding
  • Sin is destructive

Sin works to distort, deform, and destroy everything it comes in contact with.  This is exactly what was happening in the life of King David . . . until the grace of God showed up, causing David to say something so radical that only God could have laid these words on his heart …

David confessed in Psalm 51:3, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”

These words come from a man who stole another man’s wife, got her pregnant, and then sent the woman’s husband to the front lines of the battlefield to die.  David demonstrated himself to be a liar, a thief, an adulterer, and a murderer.  And yet, incredibly, God calls David “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).  How could this be?  Only because of unimaginable grace!

It is grace that opens blind eyes to see.  It is grace that opens deaf ears to hear.  It is grace that brings a dead heart back to life.  It is grace that allows us to begin the process of knowing who we really are and to cry out with the apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24-25).

Has grace enabled you to say this today?  Do you know yourself as the great sinner you really are?  If so, cheer up!  Jesus Christ is a far greater Savior than you are a sinner!

Only when you acknowledge this truth are you on the road to knowing yourself.  You no longer have to blame your way out of your sin.  You no longer have to excuse your way out of your sin.  You no longer have to hide your way out of your sin.  All God wants us to do is confess our sin to the One who died for it – and He promises that He is faithful to forgive us.

No penance . . . no performance . . . just Jesus … the One who pardons and brings peace in our relationship with God. When we see ourselves for who we are, confess and repent of our sin, and ask His forgiveness, He is always ready, willing, and able to forgive even our greatest sin and our most heinous act.  Plus … all of the other gross stuff you do every day!  It is important to know yourself in this way … it is the only way to begin to know God and His marvelous grace!

This is God’s Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

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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Being Completely Known

Grace For The Journey

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6AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogBeingFullyKnown  Can you imagine the last 30 days of your life playing up on a video screen in church next Sunday, revealing your every thought, word, deed, and desire? If you are anything like me, that is a possibility you would rather not consider! Yet we all know that God knows everything about us – our every thought, word, and movement.

The Bible teaches this truth in John chapter 4 in the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well, when she declares, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Can you imagine what that stunned Samaritan women must have been thinking when Jesus confronted her with the inside story of her life?

“[Jesus] told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’  ‘I have no husband,’ she replied.  Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quiet true.’  ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet.’” (John 4:16-20)

We can easily conclude one thing when we see how she recounted her encounter with the Living Lord – This Samaritan woman was touched by the transforming power of the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a remarkable picture of God’s disrupting grace when it shows up in our lives! Here the woman came to Jacob’s well for some drinking water and instead left with the living water that quenches the driest and deepest thirst known to man.

Jesus exposed everything about her sinful past, yet we do not find in her response a hint of despair or fear. She was, for the very first time, completely known, and yet completely secure in that uncomfortable thought. Far from any thoughts of crawling into a hole and dying, she ran to tell her circle of influence about her encounter with the Redeemer. How remarkable to find compassion gushing out of this account rather than condemnation . . . acceptance rather than accusation . . . redemption rather than rejection.

This is why we need to center our lives on the truths of the Gospel. The Samaritan woman was set free from being a prisoner of her painful past. Jesus broke the chains of her sinful choices and led her into a new direction of what she could be, instead of what she had been. And Jesus does the same for us each day.

Jesus knows every thankless thought, every wicked word, each disgraceful deed and depraved desire. And yet, despite knowing who we really are, He pursues us with a love that is unconditional and a forgiveness that is unending. Because Jesus is the Messiah, we can rest in the truth of being fully known and yet fully accepted.

That is why the story of this Samaritan woman is such a comfort for us today. She went to the well to draw some water at “the sixth hour” (noon), a time when she could be reasonably assured she would not run into anyone. What she never expected was the divine appointment Jesus had set with her and His accurate disclosure of her dreadful past.

To be sure, every closet has some skeletons hanging in it. But in the closet where Jesus enters, those skeletons turn to dust and are blown away by the power of the Gospel. Being completely known without being paranoid is only possible when we find our meaning, significance, and purpose in the One who knows us completely, yet forgives us completely and loves us eternally in spite of what He knows about us

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

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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The Great Work of Good Friday!

Grace For The Journey

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3AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogTheGoodWorkOfGoodFriday  For centuries, the children of Israel brought sacrifice after sacrifice to the Tabernacle and Temple to atone for their sins . . . until Good Friday.  On this day the perfect Sacrifice went to the cross, willingly and without hesitation, to pay the price, once-for-all, for all of our sins.   This was the great work Jesus accomplished on the cross.

The Bible says that the last thing Jesus said upon the cross was . . .

 “It is finished!”

(John 19:10)

This signified the fact that the payment for sin had been achieved.

The great work of Good Friday is found in the fact that it is a finished work.  What Jesus came to do He did do . . . and now it is finished.  Never again will any payment or sacrifice be required, because payment was made in full.  John the Baptist confirmed that, in God’s perfect plan of redemption, no other sacrifice would ever be needed to take away our sins when he said . . .

“Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

What a great announcement! There is no need to sacrifice any more goats, or bulls, or lambs, or pigeons.  The perfect Lamb of God has shed His blood to cleanse us from all our sins.  This is the truth every child of God experiences and enjoys the moment they place their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death.

 The Great Work Of Good Friday Is A Finished Work.

There is nothing we can do to add to what Jesus has already done on our behalf.  No penance . . . no performance . . . no persuasion.  To be sure, the proud pharisaical heart that lies within each of us rises up against this truth.  Surely there must be something we need to do – if not to get into heaven, at least to maintain our right standing!  But I have emphasized since the beginning of this blog that the same grace that saves you is the same grace that sanctifies you.  God did not save by His grace and power and then expect you to maintain your salvation through your own human strength (Philippians 2:13; Titus3:5).

Jesus willingly went to the cross for His people.  The Bible tells us in John 10:17-18, “… I lay down My life, that I might take it again . . . No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again …”

Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves, and He did it because He wanted to do it.  They did not drag Him kicking or screaming or fighting.  When Jesus prayed from the cross on that Good Friday, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46), He made it clear that He was in complete control of everything that was going on.  The voice of truth calmly spoke words of comfort and confidence as He willingly laid down His life for us and voluntarily gave up His life.

Bruce Marchiano, who portrayed Jesus Christ in the drama The Gospel According to Matthew, authored a book entitled, In The Footsteps of Jesus. In this book he recounts his experiences portraying our Lord. In a gripping passage about Christ’s unwavering determination to die on our behalf, Marchiano wrote, “It’s so vital a thing for us all to grasp: Jesus wasn’t forced to the cross – He chose the cross.”

And on that day, that most awful of days, He wasn’t dragged to the cross. He was crawling to the cross. His battered body was giving out on Him; He had little life remaining in Him; He was struggling against all odds … He had to make it to the cross … Fighting against the pain and struggling with everything He had … driving through indescribable pain and opposition to see the fulfillment of His mission …

And then … the victory cry … It is finished!

In the original text, it is translated from a single Greek word: “Tetelestai!”  It is the triumphant pronouncement of heaven’s finest: “IT IS FINISHED!”  I do not believe that our Lord gasped out His word; I am sure His voice thundered!

Matthew records in chapter 27 verses 51 and 54 some amazing events that happened immediately after this, “And, behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split . . . Now when the centurion, and those who were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:51, 54)

The great work of Jesus Christ upon the cross on Good Friday is a finished work and a powerful work!  It shows us that He cannot love us any more or any less.  No matter how you perform, good or bad, you are secure in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  It is done! It is finished! The debt is paid in full!

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

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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Forever Family!

Grace For The Journey

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2AprilPhotoForPastorsBlogForeverFamily  The work of Jesus Christ on the cross not only makes us one with Him, it makes us one with each other.  Listen to these words from the lips of our Savior as He hung upon that cross –

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and this disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”  (John 19:26-27)

Jesus told Mary and John that they would be part of the same household and family from that moment on  . . . but they would also become part of a forever family.  To be sure, we are saved individually, but we are not to remain that way.  When we were saved, we were brought into our forever family – not by human blood-lines, but by the blood of the Lamb (John 1:12-13).

The Bible says in Romans 12:5, “So we, being many, are one body In Christ, and individually members of one another.”

Everyone who has placed their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior has been made part of a new forever family.  And, as Paul wrote, “Each member belongs to all the others.”  No matter where this message finds you as we move Passion Week, if you are in Christ, you are a member of His forever family.  As someone someone says, “Everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs to everyone who belongs to Jesus.”  And that includes you!

Because of this remarkable truth, everyone matters.  Regardless of your gifting and calling, regardless of your success and station in life, you matter.  God did not make us all the same to do the same thing.  Each member is as valuable as the next.  Each one is as needed as the next.

And as members of the body of Christ, we must always remember we are not the Head.  Jesus is!  When we mess that up, we mess others up.  When we see ourselves as the head, rather than a member, of the Body of Christ . . .

  • We criticize
  • We condemn
  • We control

Only the Gospel can free us from the need to be the head, rather than a member.  Only the Gospel keeps us working toward the expansion of God’s kingdom rather than our own kingdom.  Only the Gospel frees us from slavery to self, preoccupied with our agendas, our goals, our dreams, and our plan.  When the Gospel rules our hearts, it shapes our lives into the shape of a cross.

We not only have an intimate personal relationship with the Almighty (vertical), we have a family relationship with everyone in His body as brothers and sisters (horizontal).  United with Christ vertically means we are to be unified with every other believer horizontally.  What is amazing is we do not have to create this unity.  It has been given to every believer at conversion.  Our job is to maintain unity, and that can only be done when the truth of the Gospel seizes us.  Only the Gospel can free us from our critical spirit.  Only the Gospel frees us from our desire to be condemning.  Only the Gospel frees us from our fundamental need to gain and keep control.

Nothing can ever change that truth.  As Paul wrote, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  Let’s let His Lordship and His love help us deepen and strengthen our relationship with His family as we let Him live through us.

This is God Word For Today …This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest & Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

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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