Gazing Through Gospel Glasses

Grace For The Journey

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18Apr    When you see others, what do you see? If you are looking through the lenses of the world, you see only what is before you in the way of physical appearance and performance. But if you are gazing through Gospel glasses, you see beyond the externals to what is going on inside a person with every beat of his or her heart.

The Bible says in 1 Samuel16:7, “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”

How easy it is to judge a “book by its cover,” as has often been said. What a distorted or exaggerated picture the cover can project, causing us to miss the things that matter most! God said the heart matters most – not appearance . . . not height . . . not pedigree. And the heart can only be clearly viewed through Gospel glasses worn over the eyes of our hearts.

How easy it is to see others only in the light of what they can do for us – how they can assist us in advancing our agenda, accomplishing our goals, and achieving our dreams. But this is what God wants us to focus on!  Gospel glasses help us see in others what God sees; and when we look at them from this perspective, we are being used by God to reverse the curse.  As someone has said, “Instead of loving things and using people as a means to an end, we begin loving people and using things as a means to advance the cause of God’s kingdom in this world.” Gazing through Gospel glasses helps us focus on expanding the cause of God’s kingdom rather than our own kingdom.

The Gospel teaches us to see people – all people – as the image bearers of God. This means we see every person through the lenses of value, dignity, and purpose. Every person matters. Gazing through Gospel glasses enables us to see past our autonomous and self-focused style of living. We no longer focus on our own wants and needs; we begin to look to the wants and needs of others, even going so far as to begin caring for people who don’t directly benefit or bless us. Gospel glasses help us to see better, think bigger, minister more effectively, and live more accurately for the glory of God and the good of others.

Gazing through Gospel glasses empowers us to see the beauty and benefits of living in community . . . in spite of the conflicts that will inevitably arise. We finally understand that everything we have experienced and endured is all part of God’s perfect process of bringing us stumbling helplessly to the end of ourselves and kneeling humbly at the foot of the cross. We recognize our need for community and the needs of the community, and we do everything within our power to meet those needs, even at great personal cost.

So . . . what lenses have you been gazing through lately? What do you see when you look at others? If you want to see others as God sees them – as God sees you – you will have to look at them through the lens of the Gospel. his is the Gospel.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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Not Just What…But WHY?

Grace For The Journey

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15Apr    There is a great deal of confusion today regarding the Christian life.  Some say it is all about abstaining from sin.  Don’t do this and don’t do that.  Others say it is about advancing into righteousness.  Do this and do that.  To be sure, we are to be putting off the old and putting on the newThe Bible  commands us “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”  (Ephesians 4:22-24).

However, even more than what we are to do and not do, the Christian life is rooted in the why behind the what.  Gospel-rich reminders of why we are to abstain from sin and advance into holiness can be found throughout Scripture; they form a common theme of encouragement.  Today we will plumb the depths of one of these truths from the pen of the Apostle Paul.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:25-32, “Having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Paul begins his why by reminding us to turn away from falsehood and advance in speaking the truth because of our status as members one of another in the kingdom of God (verse 25).  Paul goes on to instructs us to steer clear of man-centered, sinful anger, so as not to give the devil a foothold (verses 26-27).  Former thieves are reminded not to steal and instead advance into becoming faithful givers to those in need (verse 28). Paul then reminds us that our words will give life to others when we remember we are sealed for the day of redemption (verses 29-30).  He closes out his Gospel-reminders by telling us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.

Why?

Because  this is how God in Christ

has treated . . .

is treating . . .

and will continue to treat us!

When we begin to be seized by the truth of the Gospel about the importance of the why behind what we do, we truly begin to sense the freedom and joy our union with Christ has given us.  It is never enough to do what is right and refrain from doing what is wrong; the Pharisees were experts at that!  We must understand the motivation behind our behavior.  If what we do or don’t do is motivated by what we will receive (blessing) or avoid (punishment), then we are not living in the strength and liberty of the Gospel.

When our motivation for doing what we do flows from a heart that is overflowing with thanksgiving for what Christ has already done for us, then we are living the kind of Christian life that is pleasing to God and beneficial to others.

The Bible says in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free.”  We have been set free to live a life of holiness – not because of what we will get by living it, but because of what we have already been given.  In the words of John Owen, “Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.”  The more we rest in the reality of our redemption and the finished work of Christ, the more we are transformed by the renewing power of the Gospel. At this level of living we both abstain and advance powerfully, practically, and simply because of our ever-increasing understanding of what we are positionally: a child of the Most High God.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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An Equal Share To All The Saints

Grace For The Journey

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14Apr  Sometimes we have a tendency 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 meted 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 us the 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, regardless of your place or position 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 expand His kingdom. Our congregation at First Baptist Church 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 . . .

  • 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 place of position in the battle to expand God’s kingdom.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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A Furnace For The Faithful

Grace For The Journey

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13Apr  Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for the faithful in heaven (John 14:1-3). But before the faithful get there, Jesus has prepared a furnace for them here on earth. Do you know why? It is because only a prepared people will be brought into a prepared place in heaven.

The Bible says in Isaiah 48:10, “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. “

As a pastor, I have learned over the years that far too many people in church believe their faith in Jesus is designed to protect them from the difficulties of life. They are caught off guard by the raging seas of suffering. They are tipped over by the storm winds of wilderness wanderings. They are perplexed by painful providences. Yet, the Bible makes it perfectly clear that our faith in Jesus will not preserve us from the storms of life; rather, our faith in Jesus assures us of them!

The prophet Isaiah tells us that God uses the furnace of affliction for our good. God is refining us and removing all our dross so that we will be a prepared people for His prepared place:

The Bible says in Isaiah 1:25, “I will turn My hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities.”

Who doesn’t want every impurity removed – and as quickly as possible? We all know from personal experience that we are sinners, both by nature and habit. We think things we should not think. We speak words we ought not speak. We do things we should not do. And we do it all too often. And that is why God is at work purging away all our destructive and disabling dross through the fires of affliction.

The Bible says in Job 23:19, “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”

You see, those who have not trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord simply cannot make sense of the storms of life. They see them as random acts of nature and chance events that happen without rhyme or reason. But the child of God knows that nothing happens

to us without first passing through His nail-scarred hands. God has ordained our fiery furnace to conform us into the image and likeness of His precious Son, and He will not stop until He finishes what He has started (Philippians 1:6).

Regardless of the fiery furnace you are facing today, personally or professionally, Jesus is preparing you for the place He has prepared for you. Some are focused far too much on the removal of their fiery furnace. To be sure, it is proper to pray that God might take it away. The apostle Paul prayed three times that his thorn might be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8). When it was not, he rested in it, because he knew Jesus was with him and that the grace of God was sufficient to enable him to withstand his trial.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into their fiery furnace, to the surprise of the king, four figures could be seen among the flames. Jesus was with them and protected them and brought them out unharmed.

Let not your heart be troubled this day, my friend. Jesus is with you in every fiery furnace you face. He is there for both your comfort and your protection.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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Divine Decision-Maker

Grace For The Journey

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12Apr  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 says 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, ‘Away with you, 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 were ministering 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 of the devil – temptations which are common to us all – Jesus went to the fountain of Truth, the Holy 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 say what Jesus said when we are facing any decision in life: “IT IS WRITTEN!”  

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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.”

Christian Cover-Up!

Grace For The Journey

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11Apr  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 blog, I think you will agree that cover-up is one of the most beautiful words you 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, “Whoever covers an offense 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 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! Indeed, what we are being taught is a Christian cover-up that advances the cause of the 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 holy cover-up in our lives by forgiving every sin – past, present, and to come. Our sins are covered in the blood of the Lamb. And not only is this so, but in the process He 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 after 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 and will 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. As Corrie Ten Boom beautifully explained Micah 7:19, “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’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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Losing My Mind

Grace For The Journey

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8AprHave you ever said something like this, “Honey, have you seen my car keys?”  “Kids, do you know where I put my glasses?” “Sorry, I forgot to get the milk at the grocery store.”  It seems like I have done this “millions” of time.  What are some of your favorites? I have always said that it is not that I am losing my mind; it is just that I have so much in my head that, like a computer with an almost full memory, it just takes a while to sort through it all!

If you can identify with this, I have a word of comfort for you today. As he was nearing the end of his life, John Newton told a friend,

“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things:

that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”

WOW! There really is nothing as important as these two truths to remember, is there? Even after we are saved, we are still great sinners in need of an even greater Savior, who continually covers and cleanses us with His blood. John Newton wrote the great hymn “Amazing Grace” with this in view.

What would keeping these truths in view do for you? Perhaps you won’t write a great song, but you will write a great story, where Jesus is the Savior and you are the one He is rescuing from sins destruction and danger, moment by moment.

There is another thing to remember that will be a source of unimaginable comfort, especially if you are as forgetful as I am at times. Even if you do lose your mind, you can never lose your Master!

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

What a wonderful truth! There is so much we can lose on this side of the grave . . . except the One whom we cannot afford to lose: Jesus. And if we can’t lose Jesus, it really doesn’t matter what we might lose, including our minds . . .  even our lives! To know that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39) is to know enough to keep us going when facing any kind of loss.

So . . . do you wonder if you’re losing your mind? No worries! Just remember Newton’s two truths… “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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Know Thyself!

Grace For The Journey

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7Apr  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 environment and biochemistry.  Granted, these factors affect us all, but these are not the root causes of why we are so deluded.  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 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:

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”  (Psalm 51:3)

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 shocks 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.  Confess your sin to the One who died for it and you will find that He is faithful to forgive you.

No penance . . . no performance . . . just pardon from the Prince of Peace – ready, willing, and able to forgive your greatest sin and your most heinous act.  Plus all of the other gross stuff you do every day!  We must all be like the prodigal son who in his self-delusion sought to live life without as he wanted without his father but ended up losing everything and enjoying none of it.  The Bible says in Luke 15:14, “But when he had spent it all, there arose a severe famine in the land, and he began to be in want.”  Sin delivered far less and destroyed far more than he could have ever imagine.  But the Bible goes on to say, “But when he came to himself, he said” … “I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you ….’”  Grace opened his eyes to see what sin had done and changed his heart understand what he needed to do, and grace brought him to the Father who forgave him and restored him!

How have you dealt with coming to “know yourself.”

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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The Perfect Personal Prayer Petition!

Grace For The Journey

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The hands of Jesus clasped in prayer  How is your prayer life?  When you pray, what do you pray for?  Are your prayers more self-centered . . . or other-centered? Inevitably, when I teach on prayer, some Christians insist that we should always be praying for others and never for ourselves.  What do you think?

To be sure, we live in a self-centered and self-absorbed age – both inside and outside the church.  Our sin nature, which will contend against the Spirit until the day we pass into glory, is easily seduced into praying for all things personal.  Yet there is one personal prayer petition that should be on the heart of every believer, every day of our lives.  It is David’s prayer In Psalm 51.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  (Psalm 51:10)

When was the last time you prayed this prayer?  David knew how sinful he was, and he knew his sin was rooted in his heart, not his hands or even his head.  Jesus patiently explained to His disciples, “From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)

David desired a clean heart more than anything else, because without a clean heart nothing else would be clean in his life.  And he knew there is only place where he could receive one: at the throne of grace.  It is grace that first gives us the desire to want a clean heart; and it is grace that leads us to get it by the power of the Gospel and the Spirit of God.

Sin makes each heart black and ugly, and only the Holy Spirit can clean it.  David knew this, and he cried out to God for deliverance from his broken, fallen condition.  Grace reorients the human heart and empowers it to beat and live for the Savior, rather than for self.

David knew that what shaped his heart ruled his life.  He lived this truth when he plunged deep into sin with Bathsheba . . . dragging all of Israel down with him.  Before he cried out to God for a clean heart, leisure and lust shaped his heart and ultimately ruled his life.  But after grace showed up, David’s heart was reshaped by the desire to beat as one with God’s heart.  And springing from this desire we find the perfect personal prayer petition: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

We must remember that our hearts will never be totally clean on this side of the grave.  But that should not stop our desire to possess one!  Only the awesome power of the Gospel can take a sinner and make him a saint . . . while he is still a sinner!  The Gospel is at work scrubbing away the sins of the flesh, and the Divine Cleaner will not stop until our heart is totally clean and no longer ruled by.  It will be painful!  It will be a prolonged process.  But it has been promised, and so it shall be performed.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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The Challenge With Change

Grace For The Journey

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5Apr  I want to talk about change today.  I am not talking about the change you might have in your pockets or that’s lying around on the dresser or in your car.  The change I am referring to takes place every moment of every day.

Every aspect of our lives is in a constant state of change . . . whether we like it or not. No matter who you are, or where you live, or what level of education you have completed, your life is a maze of twisting, turning changes . . . that may be for the better or the worse. Our bodies are in a constant state of change.  We lose hair. We gain weight. We need more energy and less gas. Life is a constant challenge of change, and none of us can do anything about it.

But there is one thing in our lives that remains constant and unchanging.  The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

The immutability of God (that is, His eternally unchanging nature) is a comfort to the Christian. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.  The Bible says in 1 Samuel 15:29, “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent.  For He is not a man, that He should change His mind.”  And in James 1:17 it says, “… the Father of the lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

Now, that certainly does not mean that God is predictable or manageable!  He bursts into our lives at times when we least expect Him to show up. And there are those times when we cry out to Him, but He seems to be silent. But through it all, we can count on Him and trust in Him, because He does not change!

Now, inasmuch as we are in a constant state of change, nothing happens to us by accident or due to some random roll of the dice. This may come as a surprise to some, but there is no such thing as “good luck” or “bad luck.” Change has no sovereignty over our lives; only God is sovereign.  The Bible declares in Daniel 5:23b, “… the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified,” and in Matthew 10:25 the Bible reminds us that not so much as a bird falls to the ground apart from His will.

God is seated on the throne, ruling over all the universe and sovereign over everything that happens, including all the changes we go through. And the one change that we welcome most of all is the change that is being wrought in us by the Holy Spirit – who, if He is indwelling us by virtue of faith in Jesus Christ, is conforming us into the likeness of Christ. Sometimes that change is painful, at other times it is disruptive. Often it is utterly imperceptible to us. But always it is for our good and the glory of God.

The work of the Gospel in our lives is to work more of Jesus into us and more of us out. As change in our lives is making us decrease and depend more and more on God, Jesus is increasing in our lives and anchoring us more firmly on the Rock of life. As John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Change is a good thing for the Christian, because it always passes through the nail-scarred hands of the Unchanging One.

A fitting close today comes from an the lyrics of a song by Lauren Daigle entitled, “Trust In You.”

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wondering
Never changes what You see

I try to win this war, I confess,

My hands are weary, I need your rest
Mighty warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face you’re by My side

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

Truth is you know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead you have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what you want Lord and nothing less

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move

When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you
I will trust in you

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
You plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go
You’ve not already stood

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you
I will trust in you
I will trust in you
I will trust in you

As we face change in our lives … we can trust in God!

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The 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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