No Shrink-Wrapped Witness

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

16Apr  Shrink wrap is a type of plastic that shrinks when heated. When it shrinks, it forms to the shape of the item it is covering. Shrink wrap is used to package or protect items that range in size from a bar of soap to buildings. You’ve undoubtedly discovered that shrink wrap can make it very difficult to open your new CD or DVD. It certainly delivers on its promise of protecting the item it is wrapped around!

Shrink wrap is a very useful product today; a shrink-wrapped witness is not!  A shrink-wrapped witness is a witness that has shrunk under the heat and pressure of daily living.  The more you shrink, the smaller your witness becomes.  A shrink-wrapped existence is living for nothing bigger than yourself . . .

  •  Your goals
  •  Your dreams
  •  Your desires
  •  Your vision
  •  Your advancement
  •  Your pleasure

A shrink-wrapped witness for the Christian is characterized by living with one foot in the world and one foot in the Word.  And when forced to choose, these double-minded Christians always go the way of the world.

They settle for living a life of mediocrity rather than

Living a life of mastery by living for the Master.

Their faith commitments are fine . . .

Just as long as there is no significant cost to keeping them.

In the shrink-wrapped kingdom of self, there is little room for glorifying God and absolutely no room for seeking the good of others.  It is shrinking the size of your life down to the size of your life.

But this is not what God wants for you!  God has called you to live large, and living large means living for the Lord.

We have been made by God for God,

And our lives are to be marked by advancing

The cause of His kingdom, not our own.

Take a look at it from the psalmist’s perspective . . . The Bible says in Psalm 100:1-5, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Sharpen your focus on verse 3, where it says, “It is he who made us, and we are His.” God made us to praise and worship Him.  “What is the chief and highest end of man?” the Westminster Confession of Faith asks.  And the answer: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.”  Our lives are to be lived in the light of eternity, where every aspect of our story intersects with His Story.

This is the place where our lives are driven by His love, His power, His glory, and His will.  We are, as the Bible says, “the sheep of His pasture” and we are to follow the Good Shepherd wherever He leads, trusting in His faithfulness, regardless of the cost or circumstance . . . even if the path is difficult or it does not make sense to us.

CS Lewis wrote, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.”  Only the Gospel, deeply infused into our hearts and minds, can free us to live such an incredible existence for the glory of God, an existence where a shrink-wrapped witness is as far as the east is from the west.

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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Why Ancient People Needed God, Why Modern People Don’t, and Why I Still Do

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

13Apr

Imagine living in the ancient world, a world without internet, without computers, without electrical power, without complex machines, without running water – without the conveniences of modern life.  Just imagine it – the work required to gather and prepare food and water, clothing, and shelter.  Also, imagine the limited knowledge available to you.  It is the knowledge of your family, your clan, your people, your ancestors.  It is mostly practical knowledge required for survival.

Imagine how you might explain how things happen around you.  Imagine that after several months of planting and cultivating your crops, one day they suddenly begin to turn brown and die.  Imagine struggling through the next few months with just enough food to survive.  Imagine that the following year a swarm of grasshoppers tears through your crops, consuming them to the ground.  Another year of hungry survival.  What would you do?  How would you explain what has happened?

For those living in the ancient world,

Both scenarios illustrate how much of the world

Is beyond direct human control

And

Beyond immediate human explanation.

Yet, ancient people looked for ways to explain the events in their lives and to influence what might happen.  For this, the ancients “needed” the concept of “God,” or at least the supernatural.  They turned to spirits, deities, or their dead ancestors to explain why things happened as they did and to somehow influence what happened in their lives.  Why did the crops suddenly turn brown and die?  Because they didn’t offer sufficient sacrifices to the fertility deity.  Why did the grasshoppers swarm at this time? Because evil spirits had invaded their land.

Therefore, by performing certain rituals or by making certain sacrifices, they believed they could appease these powers of the unseen world and hopefully make their lives better. Ancient people needed the idea of “God” or the supernatural to be able to make sense of their world and try to control it in some way.

The situation changes with the developments of modern society.  Modern science can provide logical, natural explanations for the events in normal life.  So, why did the crops die?  Because a virus infiltrated the fields.  Why did the grasshoppers swarm through the crops this time?  Because climate conditions forced them to change their regular movement patterns.  Science offers answers to these kinds of everyday questions.

In addition to that, through technology, people can manipulate the world around them in ways not even imaginable in the ancient world.  They can prevent the virus from destroying the crops or prevent the grasshoppers from eating the crops.

In today’s world man think that the idea of “God”

Is no longer necessary to explain or

Manipulate the world around us.

In this sense, modern people no longer think they need the idea of “God” or even the supernatural.

In fact, it is only with the arrival of modern man that real atheism emerges.

Atheists have decided that they no longer need “God” most often because they believe science provides sufficient answers to explain and even control our world.

In fact, if science and technology have come so far in explaining so much of our world and if they continue to explain more and more with each new discovery, why does anyone need “God?”

In one sense,

The answer to the question is that no one does,

At least not the “idea of God.”

It is true that the vast majority of people, even modern people, have recognized that science itself is always limited both by the people who develop it and by the phenomena it takes into account.

For this reason,

Science often does not provide satisfactory answers

To many of life’s deepest, most difficult questions.

But ultimately, it is not the idea of “God” as an explanation for the everyday world that matters most to me.

The truth is I need God . . .

Not just the idea of “God,” but the true, living God.

I need Him for innumerable reasons,

But the most pressing reason is

That I am condemned as a sinner.

Although someone may object that sin is something made up in my head or something pressed upon me by my social environment, I know better, as do millions of others. Since I was a child, my conscience has condemned me.

Even when no one ever indicated that

What I was doing was wrong,

My conscience convicted my heart.

My conscience testifies to my need for something that is beyond myself to achieve: forgiveness.

In addition to that, when I look at this world, with all the destruction, all the deterioration of relationships, all the disease, all the disasters, and all the deaths that occurs on a routine basis,

I have to conclude that something is

Terribly wrong with man and the world . . .

Something so wrong that even with modern education,

Science, and technology man can solve all these problems.

I have to conclude with the truth of the Bible …

Only God can remove the condemnation of sin,

Its consequences, its guilt, its shame, and its punishment.

Sometimes people lose their sense of guilt or shame about some behavior, but this loss most often results from a choice either to excuse the behavior or to just live with it.

But God’s work exemplified in Christ

Does not excuse sin,

Nor does it ignore sin.

It takes the sin away through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

His sacrifice, God’s sacrifice, brings forgiveness to those who believe.

Forgiveness stands at the heart of the Christian message, the Gospel.

Paul demonstrates this point when he describes the Gospel to the Romans.  The Gospel is God’s power to rescue us from the judgment of God to come (see Romans 1:16-20).

Our sin convicts, condemns, and controls us.

Only God can overcome sin. Only God can forgive.

And that is why I still need God. In fact, it is why all people need God.

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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Waiting For And Hoping In God

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

12Apr

Today I would like to share a message of hope with you.  We can live weeks without food . . . days without water . . . minutes without oxygen.  But we cannot live a single moment without hope.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:4, “But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.”

If you are reading this today and Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are among the living; and because you are among the living, you are to be filled with a holy hope.

The Bible provides one powerful Gospel truth as to why that is true in Lamentations 3:25, “The Lord is good to those who wait for and hope in Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

Isn’t that a wonderful truth?

Notice that the Bible does not say the Lord is good to those whose hope is in their career path, their bank account, their good looks, their education, or their physical ability.  It says the Lord is good to those who wait for and hope in Him.

So . . . where is your hope today?  Is it focused on Him . . . or on something other than Him, which may offer the promise of a great benefit and reward but in the end will never deliver on its promise?

Listen to what the Bible says in Psalm 34:10, “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  In other words . . .

Everything you need to live the life God wants you to live and to

Accomplish all that God is calling you to do will be placed at your disposal.

God will never lead you to do something without giving you everything you need to get it done.  Nothing can stand in the way of God’s purpose for your life.  The world, the flesh, and the devil will oppose you, but greater is He who is in you (1 John 4:4) – and that makes you able to overcome any and all opposition that stands in your way.

  • Difficulties at work? Look to, turn over to, and hope in the Lord.
  • Struggles in your relationships? Look to, turn over to, and hope in the Lord.
  • Distance in your marriage? Look to, turn over to, and hope in the Lord.
  • Challenges in your parenting? Look to, turn over to, and hope in the Lord.
  • Discouragement and distress over bad choices? Look to, turn over to, and hope in the Lord.

Regardless of where this finds you today, keep your hope in the Lord.  Go to Him in prayer and confess and plead your case.  Go to Him in His Word and stand on His truth.  Go to Him through the godly people He has placed in your life to give you counsel and comfort.  Because God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), each day is a day of glorious new beginnings.  With every dawn there is new hope, new opportunity, and new possibilities – but not for a dead lion . . . .  or any other dead thing for that matter!

All those new beginnings are available only to one who is alive in Christ.

I think we would all agree that in the realm of the physical world it is far better to be a live dog than a dead lion.  Regardless of how much skill, power, and ability the lion has it is of no use to him if he is dead.  What is true in the physical world is true in the spiritual world, only with far greater importance.  There are many great individuals who are walking around this world drawing breath, but they are outside of the kingdom of God.  They do not know God or the things of God; they have no concern about Him, no relationship with him; and thus they are dead in trespasses and sins.  They are as the dead lion.

But for you whose life and hope is in the Lord, even if you are the “least” of all those who reside within the courts of heaven, you are alive today and shall live forever more.

You can enjoy life as God designed it and desires it;

You can experience a life of freedom and fulfillment;

And

You can expect forever life with Jesus in heaven!

Rejoice!

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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Something All Of God’s People Should Desire

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

I spend some time one day during the week with a young man whose heart is longing for “more of God.”  What I mean by that is that he desires a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him.  He wants to know His Savior and Lord in a deeper personal and powerful way.  The psalmist equated this inner hunger to a panting, thirsty deer needing to drink from a flowing brook (Psalm 42:1).  That deer feels as if it will die if there is not an immediate and satisfying intake of the water.  That’s a picture of what it means to long for more of God.

If I had time or space, I could easily give multiple examples in the Bible where this “more of God” desire is communicated.  Personally, I arise every morning with this very yearning upon my heart.  Graciously, God has made my relationship with Him more than I could ever hope it to be.  It is not that I simply believe in Him, I experience Him working in and through me.  I love those times when I KNOW He is working in my midst, moving and working in me, around me, through me, and for me.  I cannot think of anything that satisfies me more than this.  Yet, these encounters leave me with the ache for more … for more of God.

The Bible says in Psalm 90:16-17, “Let Your work appear (be shown) to Your servants, and Your glory (glorious personhood and power) to their children.  And let the beauty (favor) of the LORD our God be upon us, Yea, establish the work of our hands.”

Did you get what the psalmist was requesting from God? He asked God to visibly manifest Himself (specifically he wants God to “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12) . . . He asks the Almighty to reveal His word to him and show how He is working in him and through him.  There was a deep hunger and desire inside of this ancient songwriter that longed to see with His eyes a response from God to what he was learning.  Do not forget that every Psalm you read in the Bible was once a song sung by the collective followers of God in those days.

Can you picture a multitude of voices singing this plea for God to show Himself to them?

Beyond that first request, the second request is stronger and more specific.  He asks

the Lord to undeniably reveal His glorious power, not only to him and his peers, but to his generation’s children.

He is saying, in effect,

“Lord, reveal Yourself to us and work in such a way that

Our children are convinced of your glorious worth!”

Now, that is amazing.  And this kind of passion and desire is needed in our day is on “me” and “what God can do for me.”  The Psalmist was not content to merely experience a personal encounter with God that manifested His presence and power.  No, He was unselfish, and he asked God to amaze and capture the minds of the youth who were alive at that time.

It is essential in our day that older believers become convinced and burdened to prayer that the next generation experience the presence and power of God, and that those young people will begin to long for Him to manifest Himself in their own generation.

The psalmist was convinced that each generation

Needs a personal and powerful relationship with the Almighty God

To whom they have surrendered their souls.

Now that is a passion and desire that will

Pave the way for God to work and

Be glorified in any circumstance or situation!

Verse seventeen is even more interesting because the inspired songwriter asks God to powerfully bless the work he desires to do for God.  He asks for “favor” from the Lord. When he makes this request of God, he is asking God to be gracious, kind, and show His mercy and pleasure to His people.  We might phrase it as “Lord, let it be pleasing and honoring to You to accomplish what I am about to ask.”

So, then, what is he going to specifically ask for?

He wants God to give life and longevity to all

That they seek to accomplish for Him.

He asks for this twice.

Speaking on behalf of Israel,

The psalmist says that their hands are ready to work,

And they need Yahweh to ensure that the work

Is prospered in the present

And

Protected for the future.

The psalmist knows that all of Israel’s endeavors will be in vain

If the Lord doesn’t put a favorable touch on it.

He invites his God in as the sovereign superintendent of all that he aims to do.

How this ought to motivate us as we read about the psalmist’s deep longing for God to approve and affirm all that is done for His glory!  When our lives are set for the glory of Jesus, we will learn to pray the same way: precisely, boldly, expectantly, and hungrily.

So, when my friend and others like him declare that they want more of God, I rejoice because they are on holy ground.   Actually, every born-again, blood bought child of God ought to want more of God.

The Apostle Paul commands us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  If we have all that we will ever have of God, why then are we commanded to be filled on an ongoing basis?  You see, Paul understood the reality that there is an ebb and flow attached to the Christian life.  A thing can only be filled and refilled if there is a certain amount of unused, empty capacity.  All of us can experience more of God.  It is a relationship we are talking about here, not some theological formula.  I legally have all of Kay Davis as my wife, and have had her since 1973.  She has had all of me for that same time period.  Yet, if you ask me, and her, we will both tell you that we have more of each other now in experience than we did on the day we were legally married to one another.  We are more intertwined.  We live in more of a oneness.  We intimately know one another in every aspect of relationship.  This is what happens when we cry out to God for more of Him.  Intimacy grows.  Love deepens.  Trust is built.  Power is imparted.  Awe abides.  Expectation of more surges.

This is what you and I truly need.  It cannot be satisfied intellectually.  It is the cry of our captivated hearts to the One who has become everything to us.

So, join me in praying to our Sovereign, sufficient God, “I want more of You, Father!  More of You Jesus!  More of You, Holy Spirit!”

He will not leave that prayer unanswered.

He wants more of you too.

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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The Sun Stood Still – We Can Trust God And His Word

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10Apr  Under the command of Joshua, the Israelites were conquering the nations of the land that God had promised to give them.  The Bible records the prayer Joshua uttered to God during the battle against the Amorites and the results of that prayer . . .

The Bible says in Joshua 10:12-13, “Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’  So the sun stood, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies.”  Is this now written in the Book of Jasher?  So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.”

You might be thinking, how is it possible that the sun stood still?  If you have sought an answer to that question you would find some interesting answers.  I present some of those views in today’s blog.  What must not be lost in the following views is that the issue is whether the sun and moon standing still is to be understood as a miracle or not.  As we seek to sift through man’s understanding of this historical event, I don’t want us to lose sight of the simple answer –

The One who made the sun

Also made it to stop in the middle of the sky

In answer to Joshua’s prayer.

With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)!

We of course do not want to state more than the Bible says. If the Bible text does not state that the sun stood in the sky, then we have no business to believe it.  On the other hand, if it does so state the event, then we should believe it.

So we welcome what the Bible says.  Unfortunately, some come to the Bible with a mindset that miracles cannot happen.

In other words, they don’t believe such a thing could happen so they try to use other interpretations of what is said in the Bible.

Unfortunately a person’s bias will shape ones interpretations.

This is awful dangerous.  Basically, this kind of person comes to God’s Word with unbelief or doubt and looks for ‘excuses’ to live the way they do so that they are not challenged by God’s piercing truths.  But if we come to study a passage in faith, we can study and understand with real clarity.

There are five major interpretations of this passage of Scripture.

(1) Poetic Flair

This view debates whether in the Hebrew Bible or the English, portions of Joshua 10:12-13 are written in poetic form rather than prose (narrative).  One can see this in some versions by the special indentation used identifying the short poem.  Most of the books like Joshua are narrative in style so that when there is a poem, it is very easy to identify.

Some suggest that because it is poetry, then it cannot be counted on to clearly describe the event.  Poetry does have a certain license in using descriptive language.  We need to be careful in interpreting these verses.  For example, those who hold this view propose in this case the poetry form suggests a very special time where an impossible amount of work was done during what seems like a long day.

Do we accept their view that this passage is just a memorable way of remembering the wonderful victory that day?  I don’t think so.  Take a careful look at the later part of verse 13 and 14. They are not in poetic form but back to the more common narrative form.  Furthermore, these narrative verses clearly restate what was so special that day.

The poetic portion of verses 12-13 are indeed more poetic than the other parts but this does not mean they do not state the truth about the sun remaining longer in the sky.  In fact, having both the poem and the narrative restatements act as a powerful confirmation that this is the interpretation that we should have of the text.  Another confirmation is that an outside resource also recounts what the author here knows.

We might not know what it means by the sun stopping in the middle of the sky but at least we can accept this as being what it says.

(2) Confused about the time

Others think that the people back then were very confused about the sun.  They were so busy in battle that they totally forgot to closely observe the sun.  They believe the verses are talking about an extra day long because it just seemed like a very long day.  But those who did not use clocks back then were very attentive to the sun and its patterns.  We might not be used to using the sun as a clock, but they sure did.

(3) A Stormy day

There are others that speculate what is described here has more to do with what kind of day Joshua was asking for so that he could effectively defeat his enemies.  They believe that Joshua was asking for a cloudy day so that they could win a more decisive victory.  They would see a special answer to prayer in the great storms of that day where more enemy soldiers were killed by hail stones than by the army (verse 11).  But a cloudy overcast is not what Joshua asked for.  Joshua uttered his prayer after the hail storm.

(4) A Hidden sun

Another version, a bit similar to the one above, attempts to use other meanings of the Hebrew word for “stand still” to mean “dim or cease.”  In other words, the sun was made “dim” by the storm clouds.  This Hebrew word is sometimes used in this way.  But the question is, “Does it mean ‘dim’ in this case?”  This word is used for the sun and the moon in verse 12.  But in verse 13 it is very hard to continue with this viewpoint.

There are three major problems with this interpretation.

(1) The parallel word for sun is the moon. Verse 13 uses a word that simply means “to    stand still” or “stay where appointed;”

(2) Verse 13 uses the phrase “not hasten” to describe the event which does not at all      make sense with the meaning “dim”; and

(3) It also does not match the sun being in the middle of the sky (10:13).  It would seem             that this interpretation is not accurate.

 (5) Extended day hours

Others have come to a more complete and accurate conclusion.  The sun and moon stopped still in the sky so that Joshua and his armies would have more daylight to carry about a more decisive victory.  Of course, the problem with this is the objection that the sun cannot stand still.  We know that the sun can’t just stay still. Everything is in a massive rotation.

But do we know for sure that the Creator is not able to do what He wants with the universe?  Can we insist that there is no way to do this?  How do we know that there is no way to do this?  Is our confidence derived from knowledge or ignorance?

This does not create any problems with me even though I love science and mathematics.  Why?  Because it is reasonable.  Think of it this way.  If the Creator put the two lights in the sky in the first place, could He not manipulate them the way He  wants?

The key issue is if we accept God as He has defined

Himself in the Bible as being the Almighty Creator.

The opposing side, though, has to discount God’s Creatorship and involvement in the world.  This goes too far for me.

God and His Word has shown Himself very reliable on other matters.

So I will accept the miracle as it is stated.  After all, I hardly understand the sun and the moon.  Am I to profess more knowledge than God about these things?  That would be very unreasonable!

Some, while conceding divine intervention, feel that the miracle involved a refraction of light so that there was no actual alteration in the earth’s movement. They concede that a miracle was involved, but they believe it likely involved a local event, somewhat similar to the darkness plague in ancient Egypt, just prior to Israel’s Exodus from that land.

The traditional view, however, is that the length of that ancient day actually was prolonged by a retardation of the earth’s rotation upon its axis.  Professor Leon J. Wood has argued that only this view does justice to the language of the sacred text.  He suggests that expressions like “stood still,” “stayed,” and “hastened not to go down” (13) “definitely indicates a change in pattern movement” (A Survey of Israel’s History, Zondervan, 1986, p. 148).  The fact that there was “no day like that before it, or after it” (verse 14) does seem to suggest the uniqueness of that occasion, whereas there were other supernatural instances in the Scriptures of the local control of light (see Exodus 10:21-23; 2 Kings. 20:10,11; cf. 2 Chronicles 32:24-31).

At any rate, conservative scholars are in agreement that this circumstance involved a genuine miracle, and that the account is not a mere poetic or mythological description of an ancient victory.

Here are five major points that clearly stand out in the passage:

  • Something miraculous took place that da that enabled them to have a wonderful victory.
  • That miracle came about because of Joshua’s prayer.
  • That miracle had something to do with the sun and moon, wich which only God could affect.
  • That the victory had to do with an extended time to fight the enemy before they scattered back to their cities.
  • That God was fighting for Israel.

Any interpretation that leaves out these emphases is inconsistent to what is being taught. T hose people that were there recognized something miraculous happened that day.  It left a tremendous impression upon them.  Unless we can accept this, then we can learn nothing from the Word of God.

The main point is that God not only gave them a great victory, but the victory came about in such a manner that made a great impression on the Israelites and the enemies about them.  Remember verse 14, “And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”

We must have faith to rightly approach this passage just like Genesis 1:1-6.  We are not meant to be able to prove these things happen (although science and astrology has discovered evidence that supports this event).  We cannot recreate the creation event nor can we bring a star into our labs for testing.  Scientists regularly throw away old theories for new ones.  Scientists at one time believed the world was flat … but God says in Isaiah 40:22, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth …” and scientists at one time believed that this globe we live on was supported upon something, but God says in Job 26:7, “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hands the earth on nothing.”  Long before man was able to make the discoveries that the earth was round or anchored on something God’s Word accurately told man the truth about them.  We are light years away from understanding many galactic events and phenomena.  We should not be so arrogant to think that we understand everything.  We still cannot understand many things.

It is not unreasonable that the Creator could do such a thing.

It is unreasonable to think that man could do such a thing.

It might be inconsistent with what we normally observe

But the Maker of all thing certainly could have inserted

Subroutines within the laws of the universe.

So . . . God is a miracle-working God!  Have you been praying to God for your deliverance from . . .

  • Strain in your marriage?
  • Stress in your parenting?
  • Silence in your singleness?
  • Struggles at the office?
  • Shortfall in your finances?
  • Strongholds in your thought life?
  • Sickness in your health?

The Bible says in Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Is there anything too hard for a God

Who can make the sun stand still

In the middle of the sky?

OF COURSE NOT!

God is in the miracle business, and He delights in answering our prayers.  But we must be willing to come before the throne of grace – and keep coming – trusting in God to answer our prayers in His perfect time and in His perfect way . . . which means His answer may not always look exactly like what we were asking for, but it will be for our ultimate good and God’s glory.

You can be certain . . . it will be the BEST answer!

You have God’s Word on it (Romans 8:28)

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.”

 

Promised Rest

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

9Apr  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

What a powerful word of comfort that is for those of us who are tired today!

Yet, there are two kinds of “rest” in view here.  Let’s take a look at them both.

  1. Temporal Rest

I am not sure who said it, but a favorite and beneficial reminder for me is, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  How right they are . . . and how often I forget it! I am sure many of you are a lot like me; we are all busy and exhausted.

Yet, if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior,

We have been promised a temporal rest from our weariness.

You see, Jesus was not only fully divine, He was also fully human; and in His human nature, He needed rest every bit as much as you and I do.  He worked with His hands as a carpenter, and it was hard work, because He had no electric tools to ease His labor.  By the end of the day, He was undoubtedly tired, just like any of us after a long day’s work.

And that is why He invites us into this kind of temporal rest.

Jesus knew the importance of rest and understands exactly what we need by way of His own personal experience.

The key is to remember to rest in Him . . .

Not in the countless other things we look to but do not deliver.

  1. Eternal Rest

Beyond temporal rest lies the most important rest of all: the eternal rest that is promised to us on the other side of the grave.  The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has secured an eternal rest for the believer that surpasses all understanding.  It is a rest that we will experience because everything that was once broken will be made whole. We will labor, but without the thorns and thistles of judgment.  We will love without envy or regret.  We will live a life of unbroken fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ and we will know Him as He is.

So . . . where does this message find you today?  Are you tired and weary and heavy-laden?

Remember that we rest in Jesus

By spending time with Him each day

And letting Him give us His strength.

The Bible says in Isaiah 40:28-31, “Have you not known??  Have you not heart?  The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.  But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Whatever you are going through that steals your strength, Jesus went through it also . . . and so much more!

Look to Him … Learn from Him … Lean upon Him

Once you have taken time to rest in Jesus, reflect on the promised rest that is to come one day soon in that place Jesus has prepared just for you, a place where there will be no more tears, pain, sorrow, or death.

Now that’s a promised rest worth preparing for!

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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Take Two Tablets

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6Apr'  Here is a phrase frequently attributed to members of the medical profession: “Take two tablets and call me in the morning!”  Well, the Great Physician has something similar to say to all of us, “Take two tablets and call Me anytime!”

Coming from a doctor, this would be called your daily medication;

Coming from the Great Physician, this can be called your daily meditation.

With countless voices vying for our attention throughout the day – radio, television, advertising, friends, co-workers, family, and our own internal voice – it is critical that we spend time each day meditating on the only voice that really matters:

The voice of Truth – John 14:6

The Bible says in John 1:1-3 and 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Initially, when we think of the Law, we recall the two tablets of the Law that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.  This is good and right, because the Author of Life knows the best way for His people to live life and gave us His Ten Commandments as our guide.

Someone has said, “The Ten Commandments tell us where the land mines are located.”  In other words, God’s Ten Commandments guide us safely through this life as pilgrims passing through on the way to our heavenly home.  But we are never to camp out at the base of Mount Sinai, because all Scripture is to be read, studied, and meditated on for our profit and our progress.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

So . . . how much time have you been spending in the Word of God?  I don’t ask this to frustrate you, or to cause you to feel like you are falling behind or even failing.

A question like this is simply designed to get us to examine ourselves

And see if we are on track or off track –

The track that God has called us to run the race of life on.

We must remember that God could easily have left it up to the Holy Spirit to encourage, inspire, motivate, teach, and train us . . . but He did not!  He gave us His holy, infallible, inspired, and inerrant Word, contained in a book called the Bible so we would read it.  Someone has said something that is quite profound . . .

THE BOOK YOU DON’T READ . . . WON’T HELP!

Now, reading good books, magazines, podcasts and even Facebook posts can be enjoyable, and even quite profitable.

But these resources should never take the place of God’s Word.

If you miss the next best-selling novel that hits the book shelf or anniversary issue of some magazine, your life probably won’t suffer.

But if you miss the Word of God,

Life not only suffers,

It begins to spiral out of control.

As a pastor, it’s not uncommon to hear people say that portions of the Bible are hard to read and even harder to understand, so they stay in the shallow waters of the familiar. Sure, some portions of Scripture are not easy to understand, but Jesus calls us to venture out into the deep waters of His truth.  As we do, the Spirit of God will illuminate us to understand and apply that truth.  Jesus promised His disciples (and that includes you and me) that the Holy Spirit would come and “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).

And the most important truth is Jesus!

The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, tells the story of Jesus – how God in Christ came into this world to save sinners.

This is the reason to read the revelation of our Redeemer.

This is the reason to be able to say of sacred Scripture, “I make it my guide by day and my pillow by night.”  By God’s grace, may this be our daily experience, regardless of the cost or circumstance.

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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The Grace of Broken Places

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

5Apr  It seems like a contradiction to be speaking about “the grace of broken places.”  But this is exactly what a broken place is for.  My family and I experienced this in a real way this past week.  My brother informed my sisters, and I last Tuesday that my oldest sister had suddenly passed on.  In the midst of the shock, broken-heartedness, grief, and thankfulness that she knew Jesus and was more alive now that she ever was, we discovered the grace of broken places.

Do you remember the passage from Isaiah that Jesus selected to announce the beginning of His public ministry?  It is recorded in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”   This passage powerfully teaches us how God is working in our lives even during difficult times.

God uses broken places to make broken people whole . . .

  • He uses the broken place of poverty to make us rich.
  • He uses the broken place of sickness to make us well.
  • He uses the broken place of suffering to give us grace and peace.
  • He uses the broken place of grief and sorrow to give us comfort and a realization of His awesome presence.

The grace of broken places is known only by those who are living for Jesus.

When we are living for self, broken places become stumbling blocks;

When we are living for the Savior, broken places become stepping stones.

I have learned from personal experience that broken bones heal stronger than they originally were, because of the calcium buildup at the place of the break.  This is true in the life of the believer.

Every broken place is designed to be a place where

We grow stronger for having gone through it.

It is a fact of life that our plans get interrupted, our agendas get sidetracked, and our goals get put on hold.  But that is only because God is at work in us to create something better than we were originally hoping for and working toward.

So . . .

Where in your life right now do you need to see a broken place as a grace from God?

The Lord told Paul, during one of his broken place experiences, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What a great reminder to us during times like this in our lives …

God’s grace is enough and His power is shown more completely!

Broken places are designed to demonstrate both our weakness and our utter dependence upon the grace of God.  That is why He has put His gospel in “jars of clay.”  God’s grace is on grand display when it shines forth in human weakness, in order “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

God is not only in your broken places;

He has ordained them for you to go through.

Why?  Because He loves you – not only just as you are – but so much so that He refuses to leave you there!

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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Forged In Fire

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

o4Apr  Today’s blog from the letter to the Hebrews offers a word of comfort for anyone who has been dealing with a bit of “holy heat” in any area of life.

The Bible says in Hebrews 12:5-6, “You have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.”

In the very same way, the Holy Spirit led Peter to write these encouraging words:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Far too often Christians perceive adversity from the Almighty as a sign of His displeasure, not His loving, fatherly discipline.  Whatever “fire” you might be facing today, know this:

God loves you and is using that trial to conform you

Into the image and likeness of His beloved Son.

God is forging us in the fire of affliction, and He will not stop short of finishing what He started. Yes, as the Bible says, we can be “confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).

Notice that in the Hebrews passage above that there are two opposite responses to the Almighty’s fiery furnace of affliction.

The first is to “make light of it.”

At first glance that idea might seem a bit strange; who in their right mind makes light of affliction?  Well, we can do this in two ways:

  1. We miss seeing God’s hand in every storm we are facing.
  2. We miss seeing the value in every storm, because we think of them as something   simply to be endured.

The Bible tells us that nothing happens in our lives that does not first pass through our Lord’s nail-scarred-hands.  There is no such thing as “karma” and there is no “bad luck.” There is no such thing as “luck,” period!  The Bible assures us in Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Him be the glory forever! Amen.”   We are most definitely not, as Tom Hanks said in Forrest Gump, “floating around accidental-like on a breeze.”  Jesus told us that not a bird falls to the ground apart from the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29).  Therefore, even in the midst of the most fiery trials, we can and must trust our Master’s assurance that it is all working toward our ultimate good and His ultimate glory (Romans 8:28).

The second detrimental response to being forged in the fire of Omnipotence is to “lose heart.”  We lose heart when we believe that God is disciplining us out of punitive anger rather than profound love.  And the difference between these two motives makes all the difference in the world!  If God was simply exacting His “pound of flesh” from you, all you would want to do is simply endure the storm and try to get through it as quickly as possible.  But if you understand that your storm has been delivered to you from a God who loved you enough to die for you, then . . .

You won’t shrink back from the storm.

Rather, you will be strengthened by it.

Which is exactly God’s purpose in sending it!

Remember, every pain has a divine purpose, which ultimately leads to the completion of what God started in you: conformity to the likeness of Christ!

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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God Is The God Of Big-Time Mercy

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

3Apr  In my daily devotional time the other day, I read these word from God’s precious Word, “And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him” (1Samel 18:14).  That reminded me of what Paul said of David in Acts 12:23, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God …”  As I have been reading about David in 1 Samuel and seen how God worked in David’s life, it has created a great hunger and desire in my life.  God chose David for a significant purpose in his generation.  He ordained a lasting destiny for this boy who would become a king.  His choice of him is mysterious.  His protection of him is undeniable.  God’s favor upon him helps us to see His grace and generosity to all His children.

We are tempted to believe that David somehow deserved this lavish grace that the Lord poured on him.  His early years were marked by faith, integrity, patience, endurance, loyalty, and uncommon valor.  It seems that he did everything right, and that deeply moves us to live such a life.  His enemies wanted to destroy him from the very onset, but God kept protecting and prospering him as he moved from trouble to trouble.

I am struck by how long David followed and served the Lord in those early years, when it was clear that the odds were constantly stacked against him for nearly twenty years?  Yet, David never gave up, and the Lord conferred the description upon David that we all desire: “a man after God’s own heart.”  David was challenged in his living for God but he pressed on through outward opposition, circumstantial pain, and inward struggles.

As I read through David’s life I wonder, “Why is it that we are tempted to crumble under lighter loads today?  What was it that David had that we might be lacking?”

The verses above give us the answer.  The verses above tell us that “God was with David” and David … served … by the will of God.”

What a glorious truth!

It was not that David was a better person … His high marks are embedded in God’s presence and power.

David needed God in his life

This is evident from his sinful impulses that are recorded in God’s Word.  David both soared marvelously and crashed miserably.  He knew both the holy fire of worship and the unholy flame of carnality.  He was an adulterer and murderer (He stole Bathsheba from Uriah, and then he sent Uriah into the heat of battle with the intention of causing his death).  David committed murder at a distance, and his plan worked.

We are left with no other conclusion but that

God chose to prosper, advance, and establish David,

All while knowing that He would do these evil works.

Now that is clearly amazingly!  Thankfully David’s awful sin did not negate God’s destiny for him.  In some way, God was with Him even while his heart was given to some treacherous sins.

David’s story motivates me to believe two things about my life with God:

1)   I need to admit that I am also one who sins, and can do things that are an affront to God’s holy character;

And

2)   I need to accept that God’s unconditional love and grace through Jesus Christ          abounds higher than any level of sin that might rise from my life.

Here is a glorious truth:

God is a very merciful God

To serial stumblers

Like David and me;

This even includes everyone

Reading this blog today!

I am learning just how relentless God is in His pursuit of His children and His provision of grace and mercy.  He will not render to us what we deserve for our sins.

He surprises us with kindness when we full-well deserve wrath.

I have not murdered or committed adultery with my physically body … but I have done both in my heart.  Yet, God has forgiven me as I have confessed to such anger and lust.

This should lead us to ask,

“What manner of love is this?”

It is breathtaking in that it far surpasses what

My mind and heart could expect or process.

Truthfully, I am overwhelmed at times when I consider that I am so loved by God!

Within my convicted heart I hear the frightened whisper that says to God, “Don’t You know who I am?  Don’t You know what I have done?  Do you not see my repeated struggles?  Why is it that You continue to love the unlovable?”  I know the answer theologically, but, at times, I simply cannot grasp it in any other context.

The bottom line is that I am God’s beloved because He wanted it that way.

Most of us sense our unworthiness of God’s love.  God has taught me that I can trust His grace and love.  It seems that God draws the most near to me when I feel the least worthy of His love.  God offers me love and forgiveness as I confess my sins, even when I am still mourning over and paralyzed by my failures of my yesterdays.

The great lesson that we can learn from studying how God worked in David’s life is to learn that God does not change in how He loves us and actively seeks to rescue us.  It has taken me decades to fully grasp how essential this is to my sense of inward peace.

The Bible says “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4;18) ,and I am one who has been persuaded to believe that God really does love us with this perfect love.  God remained with David.  God cared for David in both relational and practical ways.  God disciplined Him when He failed but, incredibly, He moved closer to Him every second of His life – no matter what his actions were.

Someone has said, “God is the chaser of His children.”  It is a good thing because some of us tend to wander.  Others of us get discouraged, or tired, and walk away in the direction of lesser things.  Still others want to flee God without a cause.  When we have these tendencies, let’s remember that it is God’s eternal tendency to: Keep chasing us, Keep loving us, and keep calling us His very own. He will remain relentless with us until things are completed here.

The lesson of David’s life is this:

It began with God …

It remained because of God …

It culminated with God.

This is the reliance and the rest God wants for our souls today.  God is the God of big-time mercy – let’s yield our minds, hearts and souls to this beautiful reality today.

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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