It’s Not Always The Devil!

Grace For The Journey

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18Apr   The Bible says in Acts 16:6-8, “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.”

What a remarkable passage of Scripture!  Paul and his companions were embarked on a mission trip to share the Gospel of Christ with as many as possible.  You would expect that Satan would make every effort to frustrate their efforts, and that God would move heaven and earth to advance the good work. And yet we see that the Holy Spirit twice forbade them from preaching the Good News in certain regions. As the kids often say, “What’s up with that!?”

I cannot tell you how many times I hear someone describe how the devil is hard at work opposing them.  This is frequently true, the Bible teaches that Satan is our greatest foe and we in a constant battle with him and his schemes (1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:10-21).  Yet, I’ve learned from personal experience that often it is not Satan, but the Lord who has His loving hand of restraint upon me.  It only looks like the work of the devil, because my vision is short-sighted, my plans are self-centered, and my goals are self-absorbed.

Contrary to what the health and wealth preachers say, we must continually remember that God has not promised to give to us all our hopes and dreams.  We want to get a good education, a secure and successful career, marry the perfect person, raise perfect children, and live happily ever after on a plush retirement plan.  Just one problem: God never promised to give us any of these things!  We may in fact enjoy these good gifts from the hand of God.  But the moment we begin to connect our identity to school, or job, or spouse, or children, or bank accounts, and anchor our happiness in these, we can be certain that God will place His restraining hand upon us.

God will not make us comfortable in our idol worship!

If we, through faith and repentance, are adopted members of God’s forever family, there are times when God will stand in opposition to us – not because He is angry with us or disappointed with us, but because He loves us and wants the best for us.  The Bible says in Hebrews 12:6, “The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”

Just like a child who pleads for a chocolate bar five minutes before dinner, we often set our hearts on what our Father knows is not best for us!  Our vision is clouded by our sin, and we may regard God as a cosmic kill-joy when we don’t get what we want or feel that we deserve.  We mentally stomp a petulant foot and wonder why God won’t come through for us!  Yet He has come through, by withholding the stuff we think will meet us in our place of deepest need – the need which, in reality, only God can meet.

Our deepest need will never be met by people, our profession, or our possessions.

It will only be fulfilled in a one Person, and His name is Jesus Christ.

Everything other than God will inevitably disappoint us.  We all know this to be true from repeated personal experience.

So remember, it’s not always Satan who is working to derail your plans.  God will take the wheels right off the track when we are moving in the wrong direction.  God simply loves us too much to let us shrink the size of our life down to the size of our life by chasing after the idols of the heart.

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 Promises – They Were True Then … They Are True Now

Grace For The Journey

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17Apr  There is a wonderful verse in the book of Joshua that offers God’s people great comfort, security, assurance, and encouragement: “Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel.  All came to pass.” (Joshua 21:45).

What a powerful witness to the faithfulness of our God!

When He makes a promise, He keeps it – past, present, and future promises.  As one wise writer observed, “God will keep all His promises whether you believe them or not!”

So . . . what do you need to believe God for today? The list of His promises is long enough to fill a thick book!  Let’s look at a few today . . .

Do You Need To Overcome Feelings Of Anxiety?

God has promised in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Do You Need To Be Freed Of Feelings Of Guilt?

God has promised in Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Do You Need To Get Victory Over Feelings Of Fear?

Jesus has promised in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

To You Need To Be Delivered From Feelings Of Financial Strain?

Jesus has promised in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Do You Need Be Freed Of Feelings Of Stinginess?

God has promised in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Do You Need To Overcome Feelings Of Hopeless?

God has promised in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Do You Need To Overcome Feelings Of Loneliness?

Jesus have promised in Matthew 28:20, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

God has promised to meet all of your needs.  However, it’s important to understand He has not promised to provide all of your wants and desires.  You may want a new car . . . but you may not need a new car.  You may want a bigger house . . . but you may not need a bigger house.  You may want a higher paying job . . . but you may not need a higher paying job.

It serves the Christian well to think of the promises of God daily and rest in the truth that every promise made by God is both “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).  John Piper writes, “The question that God asks us is this: Are you living in the fullest enjoyment of God’s YES to you in Christ Jesus?  Or to put it another way: Have you said yes to all of God’s YES to you?  Is there any of God’s YES to you to which you are saying NO, or MAYBE. or NOT NOW?”

Remember, if you are not standing on the promises of God,

You are simply not standing on solid ground!

You are standing on shifting sand and will continually be at the mercy of the strongest wind that is blowing at the time.

Let the truth that God has never broken a promise – and never will – cause you to build your life on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.

Nothing in the universe can shake this foundation.

You have His Word on it . . .

His Word that was true then and now!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Power To Live A Risen Life!

Grace For The Journey

14Apr  This coming Sunday, we celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to the honor and majesty of His Father in heaven!

On the first Easter Sunday, death and the grave could not hold our Lord.

The Roman soldiers and the religious leaders could not scheme to keep Him in the tomb.

No power in the universe was powerful enough to render Omnipotence impotent.

Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote a powerful prayer for all believers in Ephesians 1:17-20:

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened: that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance of the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”

When Jesus was raised from the dead, death was driven into the ashes of defeat once for all.  Death, which for a little while held Him in the grave, is now rendered powerless forevermore.  And the power that raised Jesus from death to life is the very same power that raised you from death to life.

Charles Spurgeon wrote:

“The resurrection is the cornerstone of the entire building of Christianity.  It is the key-stone of the arch of our salvation.  It would take a volume to set forth all the streams of living water which flow from this one sacred source, the resurrection of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; but to know that He has risen, and to have fellowship with Him as such – communing with the risen Savior by possessing a risen life – seeing Him leave the tomb by leaving the tomb of worldliness ourselves, this is even still more precious.”

Because we have been raised with Christ, we have been given the power to live a risen life.  Peter assured us that “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”  (2 Peter 1:3).  Having been buried with Christ in the grave we have been raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

To be sure, there is much that can be said about this risen life, but one fact reigns supreme:

This life you have been given was a gift of grace

And

Not due to any of your good works –

Regardless

Of how “good” you think they may be!

Mercy sought you, mercy caught you, and mercy bought you.  It had nothing to do with your effort or merit.  Every time we seek to find our acceptance – not in the Beloved, but in our behavior – we wander back into the dead works of religion . . . we wear the grave clothes of self-righteousness.  A risen life is a life that rises above seeking God’s favor and blessing based on how we relate to Him.

Who reading this right now would feel any confidence in approaching the Great White Throne on the basis of your own performance?  On your “good” days, perhaps you don’t feel too badly about it.  But what about on your “bad” days, which (if you are anything like me) far outweigh your good ones?

God’s favor and blessing do not flow to us based not on how we relate to Him,

But rather on how Jesus related and continually relates to us.

It was His perfect, obedient life, and sacrificial death that causes God to look upon us with pity, compassion, and love.  It was the precious blood of Jesus that cleansed us and connected us to the Father.

The just (Jesus) died for the unjust (you and me),

Giving to the unjust what only the just could give.

  • His death is our death, which frees us from sin and death.
  • His resurrection is our resurrection, which frees us to walk in the newness of life.

A risen life is not a life that is busily engaged in doing more and trying harder to please God.

It is a life that dives more deeply into the truth of the Gospel, applying it to every area of life, knowing that we are already pleasing to God because of Jesus.  Only the truths of the Gospel can free us to live a risen life, where we live out practically (in obedience and holiness) what we already are positionally (a child of the Most High God).

The conclusion?  The Bible clearly state it in Romans 6:11, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Augustine profoundly pronounced this truth more than 1,500 years ago when he wrote in his Confessions, “Give me the grace to do as you command, and command me to do what you will! . . . [W]hen your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we receive the power to obey them.”

Our salvation and our sanctification are all the work of God’s grace and power.  The Bible sums it us this way, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

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 “Good” in Good Friday

Grace For The Journey

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13Apr  Most of you know that on “Good Friday” Christians remember the day more than two thousand years ago when the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died an unimaginable death on a wooden cross.

Why in the world would we call it “good”?

Why not “black” Friday or “bad” Friday?

We call this day Good Friday simply because it was the first of a three-day weekend that initiated the most unimaginable “good” the world has ever seen – good that was accomplished by the death and burial of Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins . . . and in then His glorious resurrection!

The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

You see, that Friday was so good simply because we are so bad!

The good news is nowhere near as good unless we understand the bad news. The bad news is that we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). We were on the run from God. We had no interest in things above because we were consumed with all things here below. We hated what was good in the eyes of God and clung tightly to what was evil. We did what was right in our own eyes. We were enslaved sinners in desperate need of a Savior who could free us from the reign of sin and death.

And how do we know these truths? Through the Law of God!

The Bible says in Romans 7:7, “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’”

The Law made it clear that we were in bondage. The apostle Paul admitted that he would not have known what sin was apart from the law. And once we understand the Law, we quickly realize that we cannot keep it, no matter how hard we try. The Law crushes our conscience and drives us to the cross.

But at the cross of Christ we encounter the good news of the Gospel of God’s grace – we receive His rescue for our ruin. God poured out His wrath and judgment on His precious, sinless Son, who took our place as our Substitute. On that first Good Friday, God demonstrated that He was both “just and the justifier” of all those for whom Christ died. What looked at the moment like a victory for the devil was actually his crushing defeat.

On Easter morning, God gave His stamp of approval on the cross work of Christ. When Jesus was raised from the dead and walked out of that tomb, He became the death of death. His resurrection on that glorious day points to the resurrection of all who have trusted in His saving work.

This weekend – and every other day of our lives – let us keep all the “good” of Good Friday in constant view.

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 Great Work of Good Friday!

Grace For The Journey

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12Apr   For centuries, sacrifice after sacrifice was brought to the temple to atone for the sins of the people of God . . . until Good Friday.  On this day the perfect Sacrifice went to the cross, willingly and without hesitation, to pay the price, once-for-all, for all of our sins.

“The Bible tells us about it in John 19:30, “When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, He said ‘It is finished …!’”  The great work of Good Friday is found in the fact that it is a finished work.  What Jesus came to do He did do . . . and now it is finished.  Never again will any payment or sacrifice be required, because payment was made in full.  John the Baptist confirmed that in God’s perfect plan of redemption, no other sacrifice would ever be needed to take away our sins … “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

No more goats or bulls or lambs or pigeons.  The perfect Lamb of God has shed His blood to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  This is not something you look forward to.  This is not something you hope for.  This is not something you experience after years of walking with the Lord.  This is the truth for every child of God the moment they place their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death.  The great work of Good Friday is a finished work.

There is nothing we can do to add to what Jesus has already done on our behalf . . .

No promise . . .  No penance . . . No performance . . . No persuasion.

To be sure, the proud pharisaical heart that lies within each of us rises up against this truth.  Surely there must be something we need to do – if not to get into heaven, at least to maintain our right standing!  But I have emphasized since the beginning of this blog that the same grace that saves you is the same grace that sanctifies you.  You are not saved by God’s grace and then expected to maintain your salvation through your own spiritual effort.

Jesus proclaimed in John 10:17-18, “I lay down My life . . . No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.”  Jesus willingly went to the cross for His people.  Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves, and He did it because He wanted to do it.  They did not drag Him kicking or screaming or fighting or defending.  When Jesus prayed from the cross on that Good Friday, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46), He made it clear that He was in complete control of everything that was going on.  The voice of truth calmly spoke words of comfort and confidence as He willingly laid down His life for us and voluntarily gave up the Ghost.

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

And on that day, that most awful of days, He wasn’t dragged to the cross. He was crawling to the cross. His battered body was giving out on Him; He had little life remaining in Him, struggling against all odds; yet He had to make it to the cross. Fighting against the pain, struggling with everything He had, determined to press on through indescribable pain and opposition to see the fulfillment of His mission – one more step, one more step … almost there … one more … made it! — and then hammer drops.

But then the victory cry!

In the original text, it is translated from a single Greek word: “Tetelestai!”  It is the triumphant pronouncement of heaven’s finest warrior: “IT IS FINISHED!”  I do not believe that our Lord gasped out His word; I am sure His voice thundered!  Matthew records that immediately afterward, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split . . . When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:51, 54)

The great work of Good Friday is the finished work of Jesus Christ.  He cannot love you any more or any less.  No matter how you perform, good or bad, if you have admitted that you are a sinner, repented of your sin, accepted His work of redemption upon the cross, and asked Him to be you Savior, you are secure in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  It is done. It is finished. The debt is paid in full.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Midday At Mid-Night! What Does The Darkness Mean?

Grace For The Journey

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11Apr  The Bible tells us of an amazing thing that happened when Jesus was upon the cross.  In Mark 15:33-39, the Bible says, “When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsake Me?’  And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, He is calling Elijah.’  And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.’  And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

In Jesus’ day, they counted the hours of the day from the time of sunrise.  The sixth hour would be noon or midday, and the ninth hour would be 3 p.m.  The Scriptures tell us that at midday it became as midnight, as darkness covered the whole land.  Having endured the beatings, the crown of thorns, and the nine-inch nails driven through His feet and hands, hanging on the cross, Jesus now enters into the most horrific aspect of His crucifixion, which can easily be missed.  In a word, it is unfathomable.

The darkness mentioned here in the Scriptures reflects the separation of the Father’s fellowship from His precious Son.  From all eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed in a perfect relationship of fellowship, love, and glory . . . until now!

It was one thing to suffer at the hands of men who were used of God to punish the sinless Savior for the salvation of sinners like you and me; but now the Holy Father unleashed His unimaginable wrath and judgment on His beloved Son, who was hanging on the cross, bleeding and dying, to pay the penalty for our sins.  Because God’s eyes are too pure to look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), He turned His back on Jesus, who had become sin on our behalf so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The physical pain Jesus endured during His crucifixion – we get our English word “excruciating” from the word for “crucify” – is truly difficult to imagine.  That shuddering, gasping agony is reduced to the level of a mosquito bite, however, compared to the shattering supernatural anguish He experienced when He suffered something no Christian will ever have to experience: being forsaken of the Father.

This terrifying darkness at the sixth hour was not the result of some natural phenomena, such as an eclipse or dust storm, primarily because it was intended to be a supernatural sign from God to the watching world.  At the time when the sun would normally be at its brightest, midday became as midnight, and God judged the One who had never known sin in the place of those who had known only sin since Adam and Eve’s catastrophic fall in the Garden of Eden.

Luke’s Gospel describes the darkness thus: “The sun was darkened” (Luke 23:45).  In the original Greek text, we would read this statement as “the sun failing.”  The One who called the world into existence and hung it on nothing, who spoke light into existence, sent this supernatural darkness so that we might understand the blackness of our sin and the damage it had caused.

Darkness in the Scriptures is often associated with judgment against sin and wickedness.  The prophets spoke often of God’s judgment against sin that would be demonstrated in the form of darkness.  Who can forget the darkness God sent to cover the land of Egypt as judgment against Pharaoh when he refused to let the Israelites go (Exodus 10:22-23)?  Darkness is also used as a description of hell: “Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).

For three solid hours, from the sixth to the ninth hour, God poured out His cup of wrath and judgment on His precious Son, who was paying a debt of sin He did not owe for those who owed it but could not pay.  Jesus hung on that cruel cross, forsaken by His Father, and endured the unthinkable darkness of sin and hell.  The light of eternal love between the Father and the Son had been utterly extinguished.  On that day, Jesus experienced the “outer darkness” that we will never have to experience when He willingly took our place as our Substitute . . . our Savior.

J. C. Ryle profoundly wrote:

“It was meet and right that the attention of all around Jerusalem should be arrested in a marked way, when the great sacrifice for sin was being offered and the Son of God was dying.  There were signs and wonders wrought in the sight of all Israel, when the law was given on Sinai.  There were signs and wonders in like manner when the atoning blood of Christ was shed on Calvary.  There was a sign for an unbelieving world.  The darkness at mid-day was a miracle which would compel men to think.”

Today, during this week that we remember His death and resurrection, it is “meet and right” that you and I take some time to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins.  As we reflect on the unimaginable price Jesus paid, let us not merely remember the physical pain our Lord endured, but the searing supernatural pain of separation from His Father that He experienced so that we would never have to.

Jesus experienced midday at midnight so that all our midnights would be as midday!

Truly, Jesus is the Light of the world.  Is He your light?  By God’s grace may it be so.

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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Forget Me Not!

Grace For The Journey

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10Apr  As we begin this week before Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, known as Passion Week, I believe it is important that we look at Luke 22:14-23 and learn some very remarkable truths from our Lord.

The Bible says, “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.  The He said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to eath this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, ‘I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’  Then He took the cup, and gave than,s and said, ‘Take this and divide it among yours elve; fir I say to you, I will not drink of the fuit of the ivne until the kingdom of God comes.’ And He totok bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘

This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’  Likewise He also took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.  But behold the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”  Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.”

The context of this passage is the institution of the Lord’s Supper on the night Jesus was betrayed.  To be sure, Jesus was speaking specifically about remembering Him (who He was and what He did for us) when we partake of the Lord’s Supper.  However, we can apply the words “Do this in remembrance of me” to every area of life.  And there can be only one reason why our Lord would say such a thing: it is possible that we might forget Him!

Sadly, all of us know this to be all too true from personal experience.  If the bitter truth be told, forgetting our Lord is no mere possibility; it is an all-too-often practice for every child of God.

  • We forget Him in our single life.
  • We forget Him in our school life.
  • We forget Him in our social life.
  • We forget Him in our married life.
  • We forget Him in our professional life.
  • We forget Him in our recreational life.
  • We forget Him in our secret thought life.
  • We even forget Him in our church life!

Charles Spurgeon penned this piercing indictment: “It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Savior; but, if startling to the ear, it is, alas! too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget Him who never forgot us!  Forget Him who poured His blood forth for our sins!  Forget Him who loved us even to the death!  Can it be possible?  Yes!”

It is good to start Passion Week with a reminder of just how easy it is for us to forget our Lord.

  • When we love created things more than the Creator (John 1:3), we forget Him.
  • When we love our good gifts more than the Giver of every good and perfect gift (Ephesians 1:3), we forget Him.
  • When we are consumed by our work rather than adoring the One who gives us wealth and possessions (Ecclesiastes 5:19), we forget Him.
  • Even when we are busily engaged in doing the work of the Lord in our own strength and not His, we can forget Him.

 

This has been my own experience on far too many occasions.  Like Martha, I easily become distracted – even flustered – while serving the Lord, forgetting to take time to simply be still and know that He is God!

Wherever you find yourself tempted to forget your Lord, pause for just a moment and prayerfully consider all that He has done for you . . . all that He has given you.  Consider the death, burial, and resurrection of your Savior and give thanks to God for His indescribable gift!  When you do, you will forget Him not.

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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Two Little Words…One Big Difference!

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

7Apr  There is a great deal of confusion regarding what Jesus said in John 17 about Christians being in the world but not of the world (John17:16,18).  In today’s blog, we will unpack this important truth and find some practical application to living out these two little words with one big difference.

Let’s look first at what the Bible means by the phrase, “the world?”  Jesus is not referring to the created order, which God said is very good (Genesis 1:31); nor is He referring to the universal community of humanity.  What Jesus is talking about is the godless, sinful systems of this world that are ruled by Satan (see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).  This is exactly what the apostle Paul is referring to in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Jesus and Paul are both telling us not to be conformed to the sinful patterns of this current world system, because we are no longer ruled by sin and Satan (Romans 6:14).  In brief, we are to avoid worldliness.  We are not instructed to retreat from contact with the people, places, and things in this world (see 1 Corinthians 5:9), which God is in the process of redeeming.  We are not to seek the quiet solitude of the monastic life simply to avoid our surrounding culture, as many over the centuries have done.

We are, however, instructed to resist the sinful direction this world seeks to lure us into (see James 4:4); a purely horizontal direction devoid of God and the revealed truth of His sacred Scriptures.  The reason we are to resist is pointed out very clearly in 1 John 2:15-16, where John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust (desires) of the flesh, the lust (desires) of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but of the world.” 

Sin has corrupted everything!  Everything God made good has been twisted, marred, and corrupted by sin.  That is why God hates sin so intensely . . . so much so that He sent His Son, Jesus, to atone for it on the cross.  Because God hates sin, we too must hate sin, which is why we are to understand the difference between being in the world but not of the world.

  • We are not to think like the world
  • We are not to act like the world
  • We are not to talk like the world
  • We are not to desire like the world

God has placed us in this world to be both salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).  Jesus emphasized this truth throughout His ministry.  The analogy of light suggests an unmistakable presence.  When the light goes on, the darkness disappears.  When we let our “light” shine before others, the world is impacted by both the “good news” we preach and the “good works” we practice.

“Salt” needs to be understood in its historical context.  In the first century, salt was used primarily to preserve food, rather than to enhance its flavor.  God wants to use His people to preserve the world from its evil influences by flavoring it with the truth and power of the Gospel.  God wants the distinct difference between His unchanging truth and the world’s fleeting philosophies to be preserved.

  • Where there is war we are to bring peace.
  • Where there is sorrow we are to bring comfort.
  • Where there is hatred we are to bring love.
  • Where there is unforgiveness we are to bring forgiveness
  • Where there is error, we are to speak truth.

We do this by preaching the Gospel with both our lips and our lives.

As someone has said, “we are to actively engage the culture around us by being countercultural.”  We make a difference in this world by being different from this world.  We live against the world by living for this world, refusing to become consumed by worldly pleasures.  Not being of this world means we are consumed by Christ alone.  Because Jesus is making all things new, He is for this world.  And because we are Christ’s (Romans 8:29), we must be for this world.

So how are you doing at shining light into the dark places?  Are you enhancing the flavor of eternal life in this fallen, broken, and hurting world?  Remember, only in Jesus does God provide the answers to the questions that matter most in life.  Only in Jesus does God explain the beginning (creation), the problem (fall), and the solution (redemption through the blood of the Lamb).  Only in Jesus does God weave together the past, present, and promised future for all those who are in this world but not of this world . . . and we must proclaim those truths to all the world!

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 Letter of Thanks

Grace For The Journey

  On March 31, 1996 God brought our family to First Baptist Church, Butler to become involved with a sweet, servant-hearted, and Scripture-driven fellowship.  Ours was a different “calling” process.  I actually preached two Sundays before the “call” vote on Sunday, April 6th.  Our family considers the last Sunday in March as our “beginning” time with the First, Butler, church family.  During the past 21 years we have been overwhelmed by what God has done in you, for you, and through you.  I write this blog today as a way to say a heartfelt “THANK-YOU” to so many of our dear church family for your faithfulness throughout these past years.

Through these years God have given our family so much . . .

  • A loving, caring church family who has stood with us and ministered to us in some of the roughest storms of life;
  • A loving, visionary church family that has the faith to launching outreach and ministry efforts that churches larger in number and resources would not believe possible;
  • A loving, Bible committed church family that is seeking to walk in the Truth and be a witness of the Gospel to those across the street and around the world;
  • And, a loving, surrendered church family that seeks to honor and glorify the Lord in all that we do and say.

When Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), He meant what He said! He is building us up at First Baptist in every way. And we have Him – and you – to thank for it.  Your prayers . . . your participation . . . your heart for souls … your ministry . . . your sharing of God’s love and life in Jesus to everyone you know … your desire to talk about what God is doing at First Baptist has blessed our family beyond what the words in this blog could ever convey to you.

You are both vital and valuable to God and to us.  You are a source of great encouragement to my beloved Kay and me.  The words from Philippians 1:3-6 speak for me today, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.  Always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Your partnership in the Gospel from the first day of our ministry among you until now has been used by God to reach lost souls, feed the hungry, show others what Jesus can do through a soul who is surrendered to Him, minister to a hurting community, and seek to be involved in spreading the gospel around the world.  What more God has in store for us I do not know. I do know this: whatever God’s sovereign will for First Baptist will be, our family is thankful and blessed to do it with you!

Please keep praying that God will continue increasing our borders, our influence, our witness, and our daily walk with Him.  Pray also that God will increase and we will decrease. This is His way of expanding the cause of His kingdom. This ministry must never be about a man . . . or even about the preaching of a man. The ministry of First Baptist Church must always be about Jesus Christ and introducing men, women, children, and youth to Him; it is He alone who is our life and the way, the truth, and the life to those who need to know Him.

My prayer is that God will continue to grow me into a pastor known for simply two things:

Faithful in preaching God’s Word

And

Fervent in pointing others to our All-Sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ!

Again, from my heart: thank you for what you have done and are doing to co-labor with us to lift up the name of Christ.  Along the way may you be “continually blessed by the Best and poured out for the rest!”

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.”

Your Repeated Rescue

Grace For The Journey

graceforthejourneythemefor2017

5Apr  The Bible says in Job 5:19, “From six calamities He will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.”

Job dealt with the most unimaginable tragedies that any man could endure. He lost his health, his wealth, and all ten of his children in a single day. To be sure, he grieved – he even regretted the day he was born – but he never stopped leaning upon His Lord.

When Job’s three friends arrived to comfort him, Eliphaz was the first to speak. And in the words above, which comprise our verse of the day, we see a poetic expression in his use of “six . . . seven” which is used to mean “more than many” calamities . . . an indefinite number. Christian, you see in the words of Eliphaz that you have been given a great promise from God: regardless of how many difficulties and calamities you face, our God will repeatedly rescue you.

Job dealt with one catastrophe after another in rapid succession, like a boxer being bludgeoned on the ropes. He did not have time to process what had happened, let alone recover from any of them. Yet, God was in the middle of Job’s storm and promised to rescue him over and over and over again.

There is simply no limit to the resources God

will send your way to help you in times of need.

Regardless of the number of storms you are currently facing, divine presence, power, provision, and deliverance has been promised for each and every one of them.

I have said this before, but I feel I must remind you that our rescue may not look exactly like we want it to look. We may be hoping for one thing, but God gives us another thing altogether. But we can be assured that we will be rescued in God’s way and in God’s timing . . . and that that rescue will be good and perfect.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter denied His Lord three times, just as Jesus had said He would. Crushed by the weight of his failure, Peter went out and wept bitter tears of repentance (Matthew 26:69-75). Yet, shortly after our Lord’s resurrection, He sought out His beloved disciple and restored him to a place of service (John 21:15-19). Not long after that, Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:14-41)!

Regardless of the waves of challenge you may be facing today, God has promised to rescue you from each and every one of them. And if this finds you in a place of peace and prosperity, praise your God! But prepare for the storm that is surely on the horizon. It is important that we remember an important life truth: there are only three positions in life:

Either we are in a storm . . .

Coming out of a storm . . .

Or going into a storm.

Yet, in all these positions, we have a loving heavenly Father who has promised us:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  The Bible reminds us that our God is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 47:1)

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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