Living Above The Level Of Lukewarm

Grace For The Journey

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7mar  How would you describe your walk with Jesus currently?  Hot?  Cold?  Lukewarm?  Jesus warned that it would be better to be cold in our faith than lukewarm!  He said in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to find out what getting spit out of His mouth might be like!  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:30-31, “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  So with the understanding that living above the level of lukewarm is a matter of more than casual importance, let’s take a look at what a lukewarm Christian looks like and ask a question: How do we bring the pot to a boil?

Lukewarm Christians look pretty good on the surface of their salvation.  They attend church regularly – unless they receive an offer for a day on the water, or a round of golf, or a trip to the stadium.  They give their tithe to their church and even additional money to charities – just as long as it doesn’t hurt their lifestyle in any way.  They understand the truths of Scripture and the call to be different from the world – but when forced to choose, they would rather blend in with the world than stand out for Christ.

The lukewarm Christians are engaged in service to God, but their motivation is rooted in what others think and say about them.  They absolutely love the stories of sold-out Christians who have impacted the world for Christ, but they are not willing to move outside of their pre-determined zones of comfort and security to do the same.

  • The lukewarm call “sold-out” what Jesus calls service.
  • The lukewarm call “radical” what Jesus calls responsibility.
  • The lukewarm call “drastic” what Jesus calls duty.
  • The lukewarm call “fanatical” what Jesus calls faith.

With or without Jesus, life looks about the same for the lukewarm Christian because they are not doing anything that requires faith.

But this is not God’s desire for us!  To be sure, we all lapse into “lukewarm” in our walk with Jesus from time to time. I did not write this to evoke feelings of guilt and fear in you; guilt and fear never raise our temperature for any sustained period.  Sure, we may run hot for a time when we are feeling guilty about our past or fearful about our future.  But not for long . . . and not in a way that pleases God.  Remember, God does not look on the outward appearance, but at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7).

David beautifully captured the heart that pleases our Lord in Psalm 51:17-17, “You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

So what is the antidote to living above the level of lukewarm?  The truths of the Gospel, of course!

The Gospel is the fuel that ignites the flame of faith and keeps it burning hot, regardless of the cost or circumstance.  The Gospel reminds us what Jesus has done on our behalf, and the love of Christ begins to compel us, replacing guilt and fear.  The Gospel turns obligation into opportunity, which is a fragrant offering in the sight of God.  The Gospel is the only force that can lift us above the level of lukewarm and keep us there.

So if you feel yourself running a little less than hot for Jesus, the solution is not to “do more” or “try harder.”  And it certainly is not to make resolutions to “do better next time,” only to find yourself falling woefully short of the intended mark . . . again.  The solution is found in your Savior and in your Savior alone.  See His sacrifice for you.  Feel His forgiveness for you.  Hear His victory cry, “It is finished!” uttered for you.  And hear His decree of power in your life: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

This is the only way to consistently live above the level of lukewarm.  “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

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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Clinging To The Creator or Created Things?

Grace For The Journey

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6mar  What have you been clinging too lately?  Where in your life are you currently investing your time, talent, and treasure?  What you do with these three “T’s” reveals a great deal about what’s most important to you.  Jonah spoke powerfully to this issue: “Those who regard (cling to) worthless idols forsake (forfeit) the mercy that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8).

When we cling to anything other than God, we are clutching what is absolutely worthless in light of eternity.  Sure, the physical things of this life might promise to meet you in your place of need, but in the end, they are never able to deliver on their promises.

  • Did that new car really give you more confidence in life?
  • Did that bigger house really bring you greater happiness?
  • Did that better job really provide you a deeper sense of significance?
  • Did cosmetic surgery really manufacture greater self-worth?

I could easily compile a long list of the vacuous promises dangled before us by the world . . . but they cannot and do not deliver, because God never designed the physical world to do for us what only He can do.

A restless heart will never find contentment in anything other than God.  The Bible says in Psalm 33:15 and 21 that God “fashions” our hearts and that we find real “joy” only in Him.  Nothing in the created world is big enough to satisfy our deepest desires and redeem us from our discontent.  As the wise preacher said in the book of Ecclesiastes, everything under the sun – that is, everything in the created order – is all vanity, a chasing after the wind.  The world offers nothing that truly satisfies; clinging to created things is enslaving.  They capture our attention, rule our hearts, and shape our lives. What was once a list of wants morphs into a list of insatiable needs that drive us to the conclusion that we simply cannot live without them.

And what we believe we cannot live without we will do anything to get.  We will compromise our values.  We will cut corners.  We will shade the truth.  We will love things and use people.  We become slaves to the stuff of this world, seeking to find life in things that can only deliver death.

So . . . have you been clinging to any “worthless idols” lately?

Clinging to the Creator is freeing.  He is the only relationship where we can find what we need and where we actually need what we find.  God is gracious to leave us wanting when we are clinging to created things, because that emptiness will eventually drive us back to the only place where we can find meaning and purpose: in Jesus Christ!  If God allowed the stuff of this world to satisfy us, we would only grow into a fraction of the people He has saved us to be.  But God loves us too much to let anything other than Christ fill the God-sized void that is inside of all of us.

Remember, clinging to the Creator or created things is always a choice, and the choice is always ours.  We can seek after and cling to all the things we think will make us happy and won’t . . . or we can seek after and cling to the only One who will: the Lord Jesus Christ.

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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Fixing Your Focus … Seeing the Unseen

Grace For The Journey

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27feb  At first glance, the title of today’s blog might seem a bit strange. Doesn’t it contradict itself? After all, if something is unseen, how can we possibly see it?

Let’s go to the Bible for our answer. Paul wrote . . . “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Charles Spurgeon, often referred to as “the prince of preachers,” had a wonderful way of setting forth the truth of this Scripture.

“In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.”

The apostle Paul made it clear to the Corinthians what an enormous difference there is between fixing our eyes on what is seen rather than what is unseen. It is the difference between the temporary and the eternal. This is the way we are called by God to rise above the circumstances of this life. As the British philosopher James Allen once said,

“Circumstance doesn’t make the man . . . it reveals him.”

Our focus truly reveals where we are placing our trust.

The man who is fixing his eyes on what is seen finds himself at the mercy of the strongest wind that is blowing at the time. He is building his house on shifting sand. But the man who is fixing his eyes on what is unseen is building on the Rock; he finds an almighty anchor to help him weather any storm.

The promise of what is unseen is truly overwhelming. When we are received into glory, we will find that we have arrived in the place where there are no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, and no more death.

This is the eternal promise we have from God in Christ Jesus

And this is where we are to fix our eyes of faith.

This promise is what empowers us to “keep on keeping on,” even when we would rather not.

The darkness of the present will soon turn into the light of the promised eternity.

When was the last time you thought about the promise of eternal life that you have been given as a follower of Jesus Christ? I believe that we shall not be in heaven but a moment and every sorrow in this life will be swallowed up in the lake of our Lord’s unimaginable love. And let me remind you, it won’t be long before we find ourselves standing at heaven’s gate, seeing for the very first time the unseen that will, once and for all, meet us in our deepest place of greatest need.

So . . . where have you been fixing your focus lately? If you’re not fixing your eyes on what is unseen, perhaps this is a good time for a truth tune-up!

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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God’s First Words to the First Sinners, Part 3

Grace For The Journey

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1mar  Today is our final installment on God’s incredible question to two rebellious, fear-stricken, on-the-run sinners: “The Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9)  In our Wednesday blog we examined the HONOR of the question; in our Thursday blog we examined the HOPE in God’s question.  Today we will see the HEART behind the question.

The HEART behind the Question

It is important for us to understand what was going on before the question.  The Bible tells us in Genesis 3:8, [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  If this had been the first time the Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day, the sound they heard would have been unfamiliar, but it was not.  This was a part of daily living for Adam and Eve – personal, intimate, heart-to-heart, face-to-face communion with their God.  The heart behind the question was a heart that beat for Adam and Eve.  But that’s not all.

It is also instructive to note how God came to the very first sinners.  He came to Adam and Eve in exactly the same manner He had come to them prior to their sin: “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  Notice that God was walking and not running, so as not to startle them as they crouched trembling in the brush, seared by their sin.  He came in “the cool of the day,” as was His custom.  Had the sovereign Lord suddenly appeared out of the darkness, surely the two sinners would have been even more terrified.  The “cool of the day” suggests the end of the day; more than enough time had elapsed than was needed for Adam and Eve to fashion their flimsy garments of fig leaves.  This delay suggests God’s long-suffering heart for sinners.

God came to Adam and Eve after their awful betrayal in the same way He came to them before it.  This should be a source of great comfort to us all!  Scripture assures us that God does not change (Malachi 3:6).  He comes to sinners the same way after the Fall as before it.  He comes to us with a heart overflowing with love, patience, mercy, and grace.  God knows that our rebellion has caused our once-perfected image of God to be marred and dreadfully stained by sin.  We are all poor . . . blind . . . and naked.  Yet in our sin-stained condition, God still comes to us!

One final thought: this question had to do with Adam and Eve’s spiritual welfare.  Most men are concerned about their material and physical welfare.  Their, and our, greatest need is to understand where we are in relation to God and turn to Him for forgiveness and restoration.  Jesus shows us that this is still God’s of reaching and rescuing the sinner.  In Matthew 11;28 Jesus beautifully presents God’s invitation to us, “Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  God pursues rebels who are on the run from Him . . . who are hiding from Him . . . who are hostile to Him . . . and He invites them to “come” to Him so He can give them rest from the fearful torment of their sinful condition. That is His heart, that is our present help, and that is our eternal hope!

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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God’s First Words to the First Sinners, Part 2

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2nar   Yesterday we began to look at God’s redemptive response to man’s rebellion.  We are expounding on the question God asks in Genesis 3:9, “The Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”

We are in the middle of a three-part blog on God’s incredible question to two rebellious, fear-stricken, on-the-run sinners.  Yesterday we examined the HONOR of the question.  Today we will rejoice in the HOPE in the question, and on Friday we will gaze upon the Heart behind the question.

The HOPE in the Question

Adam and Eve’s actions immediately after their choice to disobey God make it clear that they believed all hope was lost.  Their consciences were burning, and they tried to cover their naked sin with fig leaves.  They heard the familiar (and formerly delightful) sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; instead of running to Him, they ran away from Him and hid.  They ran miserably away from the One who had given them everything, including an intimate, loving relationship.  But then, when all hope seemed irretrievably lost, God called to them: “Where are you?”

The question confirms that Adam was, indeed, lost because of his decision to deny God – and in the process, to deny himself.  Yet, even in his state of alienation from God, this question of hope confirms that our loving Lord intended to deliver mercy in the middle of their misery.

Think for a moment of all of the different responses God could have delivered to Adam and Eve after their rebellion.  Do any of the following questions sound like something you might say when someone does you wrong?

  • “How could you do such a thing!”
  • “What in the world have you done!
  • “I can’t believe you did this to me!”

Instead of responding to the first sinners with harsh questions like these, the voice of Grace called to them . . . “Where are you?”  You see, regardless of what circumstances of life you are currently in, even if a situation seems utterly hopeless, you still have hope.  God came after Adam and Eve, and He comes after us every time we turn from Him and choose to do what is right in our own eyes.

One final point regarding the hope in this question: despite all the doctrines the proud Pharisaical heart devises for free will and man “choosing” God, man never has and will never seek after his God.  Scripture is quite clear on this matter: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8 NIV).  Man does not go looking for a relationship with God; it is God who does the pursuing – God and God alone.  There is great hope and comfort in knowing that!  If I thought for a moment I had anything to do with my salvation, despair would define my life, not devotion to my Savior.  Think about it for a moment; if your salvation depended on you to even the slightest degree, what is the likelihood of you spending eternity in the presence of a perfectly holy and just God?

God seeks the sinner; the sinner never seeks God.  This is the greatest hope that the world has ever known!  God loves us enough to call us out of our sin and rebellion: “Where are you?”

For the Christian this HOPE is summed up in Paul explanation about God’s redemptive response, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:3-5 NIV).

Tomorrow we will finish up our consideration of God’s redemptive response to man’s sinful rebellion.

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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God’s First Words to the First Sinners Part 1

Grace For The Journey

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1mar  We have been looking at why things are the way they are in our world today.  We have seen that drastic and desperate conditions we live in are a result of the Fall.  Adam and Eve rebelled against God and threw their lives and the whole world into sin.  The Good News of the Bible is that God had a redemptive response to man’s rebellion.  We will look at this wonderful truth over the new three days.

The Bible says in Genesis 3:9, “The Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9)

Have you given thought to God’s gracious response to the very first sinners?  Adam and Eve had denied their divine design and chosen to serve their own little kingdom, rather than the “Big Kingdom” of God.  And what did God do?  He pursued them and rescued them from themselves!  Over the next three days we will look at three different aspects of God’s incredible question: the HONOR of God’s question, the HOPE in God’s question, and the HEART of God behind the question.

The HONOR of the Question

Did God need to ask any questions of the first sinners?  Absolutely not!  He simply could have delivered a thunderbolt from the heavens, turning Adam and Eve into ashes . . . but He did not.  God honored these rebellious sinners with a question of great grace.

While Adam and Eve futilely tried to cover their nakedness and shame with fig leaves, God spoke to them tenderly, with great love.  Think about it this way: have you ever had someone wrong you – slander you, gossip against you, turn on you, or betray you in some way – and you responded with, “I won’t have anything to do with that person ever again!”?  We’re all prone to that . . . but that’s not how God operates!

In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed for a life of bliss.  Their days would be taken up with finding meaning and significance in the purpose, presence, and person of God.  All of life would be an act of worship of the Most High God.  Their love for God would control their hearts, direct their behavior, and shape their lives.

But Adam and Eve thought they were missing out on something, and they turned their worship and love inward onto themselves, seeking a life of autonomy and self-sufficiency.  In a word, they sought a subhuman existence, and didn’t realize what they had done until it was tragically too late.  And yet, in spite of their awful act of rebellion, God honored them with a most gracious response: “Where are you?”

God asks that same question of us today.  Remember, God was not seeking to determine Adam’s whereabouts!  Omniscience knows everything and omnipresence is everywhere.  David’s psalm expresses this beautifully:

“Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall uphold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10).

No, God wasn’t trying to find out where Adam was; it was Adam and Eve who didn’t know where they were!  They had completely lost their way, cowering in fear in a place where they once knew only the loving presence of their God, walking and communing with Him in the cool of the day.

God is asking you today, “Where are you?”  He knows precisely where you are; do you?  Are you communing with Him, seeking to enjoy His presence?  Or has something else captured your desire?

Tomorrow we will look at the HOPE in God’s question.

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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