The Iron Did Swim!

Grace For The Journey

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15MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  Are you facing anything in life right now that seems insurmountable?  Trouble at the office?  Loneliness in your single life?  Difficulties in your marriage?  Prodigal child?  Unfaithful friend?  Negative bank balance?  Bad news from the doctor?  I pray that today’s message will be a source of comfort and encouragement to you, making it clear that no situation you face is beyond the reach of your Redeemer.

The Bible records an amazing event in 2 Kings 6:1-7, “Now the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘See, the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan and each of us get there a log, and let us make a place for us to dwell there.’ And he answered, 1Go.’ Then one of them said, ‘Be pleased to go with your servants.’ And he answered, ‘I will go.’ So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water, and he cried out, ‘Alas, my master! It was borrowed.’ Then the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there and made the iron float. And he said, ‘Take it up.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.”

Can you imagine a situation more hopeless?  The borrowed axe head had fallen into the water, plummeting down to settle on the bottom.  Gone was the axe head, and likely the trust granted to the borrower by the tool’s owner was gone with it.  Or was it?  Once again we see that “with God all things are possible” . . . even making steel swim!

If God can make steel swim, He can turn any situation in your life around in an instant.  He delights in blessing His people and blessing them in ways that make it crystal clear it was God who did the recovering.

So . . . what steel in your life do you need to swim?  With God on your side you can live with hope, even in the face of what seems hopeless.

The impossible becomes possible in the hands of the Almighty!

God can raise you out of the ashes of defeat and bring you into a new season of success.  As one persons says, “He can meet you in your place of darkness and make it so bright that you gotta wear shades!”

Now, it’s important to note that God had the man reach out his hand and take back the lost axe head.  Yes, the steel did swim because of the grace and power of God, but even in that grace God had the man reach out to receive it.  You are not a passive bystander in the life you are living.  You are called to do your part, to surrender, get involved, and to fulfill your role.  Yes, the race you are running you run by grace . . . but you are still running it.

Paul questioned the Christians at Corinth, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize?” And then he added this exhortation: “So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Other than our Lord Himself, no one taught the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone more clearly than the apostle Paul. And yet he too stressed our active role in living the Christian life.

Reach where God instructs you to reach.  Grow where God instructs you to grow. Stretch where God instructs you to stretch.  Stand still where God instructs you to stand still.  Remember, God will only ask you to do what He has given you the strength to do – We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Every promise God has made to us finds its “Yes!” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20) and that includes the promise to make whatever steel you are facing today . . . swim!

Stand on this truth …

Stay focused upon God …

Safely rest in His love, grace, power, and purpose for your life!

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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Shouting Stones

Grace For The Journey

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14MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  In a world where people exaggerate their accomplishments and abilities, there is One who walked this earth who did not. Not only was every word from His mouth truth, He Himself was the Truth.

The Bible tells us in Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Jesus uttered these words during His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The people were shouting and waving palm branches as their King approached the City.  Some of the Pharisees demanded that Jesus silence His disciples, to which He gave this remarkable response about shouting stones. Jesus was saying that even if He silenced the crowds, the stones would burst into praise and adoration to celebrate the coming of the great King and Savior.

Do you find the idea of shouting stones hard to believe? Coming from the One who healed the sick, made the lame walk, gave sight to the blind, and brought the dead to life . . . surely this is possible too! Jesus has always done what He said He would do because He is who He said He was: the very Son of the Living God. The Bible teaches us that Jesus created all things, including the stones, and sustains them by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). He spoke all things into existence and breathed life into the first man. Surely Omnipotence can give speech to a stone!

The Bible tells us of others stones that shouted against us.  There was a time when the stone tablets of the Law cried out for our condemnation, declaring just how far we moved away from God. But Jesus has forever silenced those stones; He broke them against the Gospel, which frees us from the penalty of the law.

There was the stone that sealed the tomb – declaring the end of man’s help and hope for eternal salvation.  I can only imagine what that huge stone might have said when the angel rolled it away from the opening of the tomb and Jesus walked out alive on that first Easter morning!

But, our Lord focused on these stones.  To be sure, every stone could be made to shout of our Savior, but we must not let that happen; we must refuse to keep quiet about our King of kings and Lord of lords! The stones should not need to make a sound, because we are shouting from the rooftops about our wonderful Lord and Savior, who came to seek and save the lost.

Let us with one voice tell the world about the forgiveness we have received!

Let us boldly proclaim the unconditional love that has been poured out upon us!

Let us sing of the glories of the Gospel that has freed us from the sin an death!

Even in the face of opposition we must shout of our Savior, for He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. And if Jesus is with us, shall we shrink back from the privilege of telling the world about the only way of salvation, which is available to anyone who believes?  The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:5, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5).

We are called “living stones” and God is building us into a spiritual house. At one time we had no voice, being dead in our trespasses and sins; but now, having been raised to the newness of life in Christ, we can sing of His grace and His glory.

May we be living stones that cry out about our Savior!

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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Faith and the Functional Atheist

Grace For The Journey

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13MayPhotoForPastorsBlogAt first glance, faith in Jesus Christ and the beliefs of the functional atheist seem as far apart as the east is from the west.  But upon closer inspection, we see that everyone who professes faith in Christ does, at times, lives like a functional atheist.

A functional atheist is someone who professes faith in Christ, but behaves as if He doesn’t exist.  They don’t say, “There is no God,” but rather they deny the existence of God in their lives by the way they are living at a particular time.  The functional atheist has decided to live apart from the revealed truth of Scripture.  He professes faith in Christ, but lives life as a practicing atheist.

There are countless ways this is manifested in the life of a Christian.  Let’s take a look at some functional atheists and see if you recognize any of these folks.  Here are three that I have heard about . . .

“Sunday-only Sam and Sandra” focus on God on Sunday but forget about Him Monday through Saturday. On those days, they live like God doesn’t exist.  Sunday-only Sam and Sandra confine their focus on God to the time they spend in the church sanctuary.

“Home-only Harry and Holly” focus on God at home through daily devotions and prayer but forget about Him as soon as they get out into the world.  Home-only Harry and Holly find it easy to practice their faith at home, but not before the watching world of their non-Christian peers.

“Painless providence-only Peter and Pam” focus on God when the clouds are fleecy, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining.  Painless providence-only Peter and Pam keep their focus on God when all is going well . . . but as soon as the storm winds begin to blow, they take their eyes off Jesus and focus on the storm.

All functional atheists have one thing in common.  They believe they were made in the image of God but do everything in their power to return the favor by making God into their image.  They refuse to serve the God who is because they prefer to serve the God they want.  They believe in God and trust Him . . . just not with their whole lives.  God is only part of their lives rather than all of their lives.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Our Savior and Lord is not only the way to eternal life; He is, in and of Himself, the only way to experiencing and enjoying everyday life.  When He gave the promise, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19), He was speaking of a deliverance that transcended the political, social, and economical deliverance the people of Israel were looking and hoping for.  He offers a life of forgiveness and freedom from the bondage to sin and self.  It is a life of freedom to live according to His will, rather than our will.

The Gospel is the cure for functional atheism.  The more we focus on the Gospel, and the better we understand it, the more it will draw us into a life of faithfulness rather than functional atheism.  When we catch a glimpse of who Jesus really is and what He really did on our behalf, we begin to focus less on ourselves and more on Him.  We begin expanding our relationship to Jesus throughout the week.  We begin expanding our relationship to Jesus outside of the home.  We begin expanding our relationship to Jesus even when His providences are painful.

Wherever this finds you, the power of the Gospel can transform you into the person Jesus is calling you to be.  Fear, worry, and doubt over an uncertain future are replaced by faithfulness, worship, and devotion to Christ.  We begin letting go of everything smaller than God, because we realize those things can never do for us what only Jesus can do.  The unconditional love and undeserved favor we are given in the Gospel are the motive and motivation to give up our functional atheism for a life built upon and centered in Christ alone.  This is the only place where we can live a life that truly matters.

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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All Powerful!

Grace For The Journey

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12MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  When was the last time you thought about the power of God?  I mean, really thought through just how powerful the one true God of the Bible actually is?  Well, I pray today’s blog will be a source of great comfort to you, regardless of what you might be facing, because whatever you are facing you are facing it in the power of the Almighty!

The Bible records an event in the life of the disciples that reveals the great power of God. In Luke 8:24, the Bible says, “And they went and woke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.”

Where in your life right now do you need a little calm?  Jesus spoke a word to the wind and the waves and they ceased their raging.  He can speak a word of calm into any circumstance you are currently facing.

In His humanity, Jesus was subject to nature.  Just like you and me, our Lord was drenched by rain, He shivered in the cold, and he perspired in the heat. But in His divinity, He was Sovereign over nature.  The power of Jesus cannot be resisted even by the wind and the waves.  “You rule the raging of the sea,” the psalmist declares; “when its waves rise, you still them” (Psalm 89:9).  Everything is subject to His authority and under His command.  Think about this for a moment.  Jesus not only desired to stop the storm in order to comfort His terrified disciples, but He had the power to do it.  Now, that is ALL POWERFUL!  And that power is available to you today.

If Jesus is in you, then the power of Jesus is in you, and that power is available to you to do everything He has called you to do.  There is nothing that can thwart the purposes of God, and that includes all that He has purposed to accomplish through you.  God never calls without equipping those whom He has called.  He provides all the power necessary for His people to accomplish all His will.

The wind cannot stand in the way of the power of God.  The waves cannot stand in the way of the power of God.  The wicked cannot stand in the way of the power of God.  And your weakness cannot stand in the way of the power of God. As Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged, “He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35)

God saved you so that you would serve Him.  And your service is not dependent upon your strength.  It is dependent upon His power, and that supernatural power is available at all times.  To be sure, we all serve God imperfectly.  The Bible is filled with examples of the imperfect service of men.  But even imperfect service was received by our perfect and all-powerful God.  And that, my friend, should comfort you today and cause you to advance confidently in the direction God is calling you to go, in order to do all that He is calling you to do.

Paul prayed that you and I would know “the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might” (Ephesians 1:19).  There is no power in the universe above His power . . . and He has given that power to you! Rest and rejoice in the following Bible truth . . .

“Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

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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WHEN SITTING IS STANDING TALL!

Grace For The Journey

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11MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  How can we stand tall if we are sitting?  When we are sitting actually standing tall? When we are sitting at the feet of Jesus! Mary understood this truth; Martha did not:

The Bible tells us about this in Luke 10:38-42, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Notice that Jesus did not praise Mary merely for sitting down or sitting still. Mary was praised for sitting at the feet of Jesus . . . and that is the time when sitting is standing tall.

Both sisters were working to prepare their home to receive Jesus. The difference between Martha and Mary lay in the fact that Mary knew when it was time to stop working and sit at the feet of her Lord and Master. Do we?

I am painfully aware that there are many in the church today who neglect their duties; they are sitting when they should be standing and serving. But there are some who, like Martha, are always working, working, working, and never taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus. It’s important to note that Jesus was not praising Mary for neglecting devotion to her sister or any of her responsibilities in the home. Our Lord praised Mary for recognizing that there is a time to work and a time to sit . . . and only those who are in close relationship with Him can discern the difference.

So . . . when was the last time you took the time to sit at the feet of Jesus?  This is an discipline that is easy to miss.  We can become so encumbered with all the work that has to be done . . – believe me,  I know this truth personally as a pastor . . .  I’ve written this blog as much for myself as for any of you. It is very easy to become so consumed by service to our Savior that we miss out in sitting as His feet . . . listening to His voice . . . experiencing His love and grace.

We must remember Jesus’ words to worker bee Martha: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  I pray that our Lord may say this about you and me on a daily basis – that we have chosen what is better. And the best news is that “what is better” will not be taken away from us by anything that would work to disrupt our intimacy, fellowship, and communion with Jesus.

Sitting is standing tall when we realize that only one thing is truly needed . . . and that is a deepening love relationship with!

If you should happen to be visiting this blog for the first time, it is my prayer that you understand that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven by which you may be saved (Acts 4:12). There is no good work or service – nor even a lifetime of good works – that will make you acceptable in God’s sight. It is by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, that we receive the gift of eternal life. That is not the “better” way; it is the only way!

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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I Hate To Wait

Grace For The Journey

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8MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  When was the last time you said that?  At the grocery store when you picked the shortest check-out line . . . only to discover it was moving the slowest?  In a traffic jam on the way to work . . . when you left home 15 minutes late?  At the office regarding your painfully slow climb up to the top rung on the ladder of success?

One of my seminary professors once said, “Hell, for me, would be one long bank line!” We all lapse into impatience from time to time, but we would deal with waiting much better if we viewed it from God’s perspective:

The Bible says in Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage, wait for the Lord!”

Waiting is one of the means God uses to strengthen us and prepare us for what lies ahead.  God is in control of all things, including check-out lines, traffic, our career advancement . . . even bank lines!  When God causes us to wait, it is not because He has forgotten us or forsaken us; He is forging us into the faithful person He has called us to be.  If we would learn to see delays as part of God’s perfect design in conforming us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29), we could wait in a way that glorifies God and benefits all those with whom we interact while we are waiting.

Impatience is simply unbelief.  It is the not-so-subtle way we question God’s goodness and care for us without actually questioning Him.  To be sure, waiting is generally not a part of our plan – which is why we struggle so much with it!  In our waiting we get angry.  In our waiting we doubt.  In our waiting we envy.  In our waiting we get discouraged.  But waiting is a part of God’s plan for all of us . . .

  • Abraham and Sarah waited beyond the childbearing years before finally bearing the child promised by God.
  • Moses waited for 40 years on the back-side of the desert before God called him to deliver the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.
  • While he was building the ark, Noah waited more than 100 years for God to open the heavens and bring the rain.

Because God can see the beginning from the end (Isaiah 46:10), His plans are always better than our plans.  His timing is perfect even when we think His timing is off.  I have learned over the years that waiting is one of God’s best ways to strengthen our faith muscles.  Waiting has taught me to see things from God’s perspective (instead of mine), and to wait for the Lord to open the door and usher me through it.  In waiting for the Lord, I have learned that the greatest blessing in our waiting was not finally fulfilling the goal, but the work God was doing in me along the way.

So . . . where in your life is God causing you to wait?  What might God want you to learn in your waiting?  What might God want you to do in your waiting?  What might God want you to become in your waiting?

God is not finished with you yet!  He is causing you to decrease so Jesus can increase in your life right now.  And He is pleased to do it through waiting.

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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When Adversity Turns Into Advantage!

Grace For The Journey

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May7PhotoForPastorsBlog  As you read the title of today blog, you might be wondering, “When in the world does adversity turn into advantage?  All of the adversity I am currently facing is absolutely killing me!  From my failing health to my faltering business . . . from distress in my marriage to disconnection with my children . . . you have to be kidding when you suggest there is a time when adversity turns into advantage!”

Well, I didn’t say it; the God did! The Bible says in Psalm 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

Here we find light in our darkness and calm in our storm.  God says that we can turn every adversity into advantage when we turn toward Him in our adversity.  We have a tendency to aggravate our problems by turning to countless things other than God . . . things that promise deliverance but simply cannot deliver on their promise.  God tells us in the day of trouble that we are to call on Him.

The second half of the passage gives the reason for crying out to God.  He not only wants to hear our cry, He can actually do something about it!  God accepts our plea for help and He answers it with His omnipotent determination to deliver us from adversity.  When we call on the Lord for deliverance, we are doing what every child of God must do: we are to look away from self and toward our Savior.  You see, in times of adversity God is bringing us to the end of ourselves.  He is making us decrease so He can increase.  Adversity turns into advantage when we take our eyes off ourselves and turn to God.

Regardless of the trouble you are facing, call on Jesus.  Not only has He promised to deliver you, He assures you that in your desperation and deliverance, He shall receive the glory.  God is glorified when we cry out to Him, because our cry is a testimony to the sufficiency of the One in whom we trust.

There is something we all need to be reminded of regarding our deliverance: God is not in the business of delivering those who believe they are in no need of it!  Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12).  If you are not sick, you don’t need healing.  If you are not down, you don’t need to be raised up.  The watching world catches a glimpse of the true composition of our character when we are facing adversity . As James Allen once said, “Circumstance doesn’t make the man, it reveals him.”

To be sure, adversity turns into advantage when we turn toward Jesus.  Speak this prayer from days of old and prepare for your deliverance.

Lord,Thou hast bid me seek Thy face,

and shall I seek in vain?

And shall the ear of sovereign grace

be deaf when I complain?

 So . . . what is your adversity revealing about you lately?  If in it you are turning to Jesus, then you are turning your adversity into your advantage; and along the way, God is getting all the glory!

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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Terrible Testimony

Grace For The Journey

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6MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  When all is said and done in your life, what would you like to have said about all that you have done? In other words, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?  The Bible has a statement about how one man was remembered when he left this world.  In 2 Chronicles 21:20 the Bible says,

“Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings”.

What a terrible testimony that is! Jehoram passed away . . . “to no one’s regret!”  Why? Because he did not follow the Lord when he became king. Instead, Jehoram followed the example of the wicked kings of Israel and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He built pagan shrines and led the people of God into the worship of pagan gods. In essence, he was more focused on building his pathetic kingdom of one, rather than building the magnificent Kingdom of the One. And therein lies the truth of Jehoram’s terrible testimony: no one was sorry when he died because Jehoram had shrunk the size of his life down to the size of his life.

But this is not what God wants! Every Christian is called and equipped to leave a lasting legacy under the lordship of Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers …”  We are called to know the Lord and to serve Him in every area of life.  How are we to do that?  We simply need to keep the main thing the main thing . . . and that main thing is Jesus Christ. We are to live for the glory of our King; and as much as it is within our power, we should be doing whatever is true, noble, right, and pure in His sight (Philippians 4:8).

Will our lives be marked by failing and falling short along the way? Of course; but that’s not the point! The point is to keep pressing on toward the goal of our high calling in Jesus Christ with a heart that beats after the things of God. When we do that, we will glorify God and do good to others – all others. And when we live in this way, it will never be said of us that we passed away . . . to no one’s regret!

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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Ignore A Whole Lot More!

Grace For The Journey

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5MayPhotoForPastorBlog  Today I want to share something with you that can help you get more out of life.  Learn to ignore a whole lot more!

I am convinced that some people in the body of Christ believe they have the “gift” of criticism.  No matter what you do, you simply cannot please them.  They are never satisfied with your effort and will always seek out something to criticize or complain about.  Now, I am not talking about constructive criticism or course correction by someone who truly has your best interests at heart.  I am talking about those small-minded people who find their joy and satisfaction in cutting others down, tearing them up, and throwing them out.

Jesus had to deal with such people on a daily basis.  No matter what He did, it was never good enough for some.  Even His miraculous works of healing brought out the critics! The Bible records such an episode in Matthew 12:9-14 …

He went on from there and entered their synagogue.  And a man was there with a withered hand.  And they asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” – so that they might accuse Him.  He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?  Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!  So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other.  But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

You would think the religious leaders would be filled with awe and joy to witness the divine healing of a crippled man.  Instead they were filled with fury, for more reasons than I have space to recount.  The point of today’s message is to help you deal with your critics.

Remember, our Lord promised that we would receive the same kind of treatment He received if we would live for Him (see Matthew 10:25 and John 15:20).  So bring on the critics, the complainers, the condemners!  You can receive their “gifts,” knowing Jesus walked where you walk and has given you all the grace you need to ignore a whole lot more! Remember, those who belittle you are simply being little!

Only the power of the Gospel allows you to ignore a whole lot more!  Because you already have everything you need in Jesus you can let your critics criticize, complain, and condemn all they want.  When you rest in the finished work of Jesus, you don’t have to defend yourself anymore.  When your identity is rooted in Jesus, you no longer have to explain yourself to your critics.  There is no need to “throw your pearls before pigs,” because your purpose, meaning, and significance is anchored in the cross work of Jesus.

Listen, if perfection didn’t please everybody, imperfection never will.  If they nailed the only perfect Man to the cross, they certainly won’t hesitate to nail your hide to the barn door! You simply need to focus on Jesus and let the power and grace of the Gospel equip you to ignore a whole lot more!

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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Christian Vitamin “C”

Grace For The Journey

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4MayPhotoForPastorsBlog  When Jesus saved you, He placed you into His family.  The Christian life was never meant to be lived in intentional isolation – which, sadly, is how far too many Christians live.  As a member of the body of Christ, each person is as needed and as valuable as the next.  And one of the most important roles we can all play in one another’s lives is to be an encourager.  Someone has called “encouragement “Christian Vitamin C.”  The Bible guides us in this truth . . .

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  (Proverbs 16:24)

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”(Hebrews 3:12-14)

Everyone is carrying a burden.  Look closely into the eyes of the people around you and you will see their desperate longing for a little encouragement . . . a kind word . . . a pat on the back . . . a warm smile.  Encouragement is to the soul what vitamin C is to the body.

There’s just one problem: we are not encouragers by nature.  Our sinful self-centeredness keeps us from encouraging others.  We are consumed with OUR dreams, OUR goals, OUR desires, OUR sorrows, OUR suffering, OUR success, OUR doubts, OUR fears.  Our mantra is Jesus and ME . . . not Jesus and we!

Only the power of the Gospel can free us from the suffocating prison of self-absorption.  The Gospel shifts our focus from self to the Savior; when we are focused on the Savior He redirects our focus to others so that we might minister in His name.  And one of the greatest ministries we can all have, regardless of our gifting and calling, is to be an encourager.

Scripture is quite direct on this point: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

William Barclay put it this way:

“One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement.  It is easy to laugh at man’s ideals.  It is easy to pour cold water on the enthusiasm.  It is easy to discourage others.  The world if full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.  Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

So . . . what about you? Are you such a person?  Do you speak encouragement into the lives of others?

Here’s another crucial question: do you have an encourager in your life?  Someone who speaks life into your life?  If you can say yes, get on your face before the Living God and thank Him for this incredible gift!  I thank God daily for the encouragers He has placed in my life.   They all inject their portion of the daily dose of the Christian Vitamin C I need!.  I thank God for all those who pour words of life and love into me.  And I also make it a point to give heartfelt thanks to my encouragers.  Those like Barnabas in the book of Actsd, who are wired as encouragers, need to receive encouragement every bit as much as those to whom they deliver it.

If you don’t have an encourager in your life, why don’t you make a point of being an encourager in the lives of everyone you meet?  Jesus put it this way: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).  If you want encouragement from others, you be an encourager to them.  Everyone needs a daily dose of Christian Vitamin C!

Ultimately, the Gospel is our greatest source of encouragement.  That is why we need to continually preach and live it ourselves.  But as we’ve seen, God has called each Christian to fill the role of encourager in the lives of others.  Encouragement is divinely designed to keep us from being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  That is powerful stuff!

“Let us encourage one another,” the letter to the Hebrews exhorts.  Jesus gave us the Gospel to empower our encouragement through a reorientation toward others and away from ourselves.

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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