How Should Christian Believers Respond To Halloween?

Grace For The Journey


31Oct  Halloween is rooted in and remains a pagan holiday.  The ancient Catholic holiday of All Saints Day was November 1st, a day designated for the dead saints of the Catholic Church to be remembered and honored. And if the religious crowd was going to have a day for their dead saints, the pagans were going to have a special day, a holiday for “all things dead.”  The night before All Saints Day, All Hallows Eve (Halloween) was designated the time for goblins, ghouls, ghosts, and gore to be proclaimed, praised, and venerated.

When I was young, Halloween meant little more than a nighttime walk through our neighborhood in a simple home-made costume, “trick-or-treating” at our neighbors’ homes.  Today, however, Halloween has become a multi-billion dollar industry.  I read one estimate that total spending on Halloween could reach $7 billion!  Television networks and movie theaters feature horror movies throughout the month leading up to the “big” day.  Entertainment opportunities are endless, from haunted houses to elaborate Halloween parties in homes and businesses.

So how should Christian believers respond to Halloween?  By seeing the following . . .

1) The Gospel has set us free from superstition so that we can rest on revelation.

We are enlightened by the truths of the Gospel and empowered to live in its light.  One of these truths is that the principalities and powers of darkness are no more active on Halloween than any other day of the year.  Every day is a day that evil seeks to invade.

God says in Genesis 4:7, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

And the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

The Bible makes it clear that we Christians have a target on our backs that the devil is aiming at every day of the year.  We need not be any more concerned on Halloween than we are on any other day of the year; we should be sober-minded and watchful 365 days a year!

2) We need to remember that the devil is a defeated foe.

The Bible teaches that the devil is a defeated foe.  The Bible says in Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, [God] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

The devil is disarmed and defeated, but He is still doing everything he can to destroy, disrupt, and defeat what God is doing and wants done in His people’s lives.  The Good News is that the Bible reveals God is actually using Satan’s evil to advance the cause of the Kingdom of God.  This keeps us from locking ourselves behind our doors on Halloween for fear of the devil and his minions.  Police statistics make it clear that incidents of satanic-associated crime remain about the same throughout the year.

Another danger of Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behavior – parties with inappropriate behavior, pranksters, drunk driving, vandals, and sadly, something that is on the rise in this culture: unsupervised children.  And this is where the Gospel comes in.

3) The Christian community is to respond to Halloween with Gospel-saturated compassion and concern for the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world.

Opportunities for evangelism are endless!  Some churches hold “Harvest Festivals” as alternatives to the traditional Halloween activities.  They invite neighborhood families and share the love of Christ.  Costumes are friendly and the only ghost is Holy.

Certainly, churches and individual Christians are not focus in any way on Satan, death, occultism, divination, and the portraying of spirits returning to haunt the living with grotesque costumes or appearance, displays, or activities.

Some Christians adopt a “no participation policy” when it comes to Halloween.  Entire families shun the evening: they don’t allow their children to trick-or-treat; they don’t give out candy; they don’t attend an alternative Christian event.  While some Christians judge this “abstinence” with raised eyebrows, this posture has also opened doors for evangelism, as parents explain their Christian motivation to curious unbelievers.

The Good News of the Gospel is that our dark, superstitious, and pagan world, God mercifully shines the light of the gospel.  Christian parents should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that:

  • There is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Ephesians 2:1-10);
  • Life in Christ has power over darkness (1 John 4:4); and
  • Those who celebrate Halloween either are unaware of its roots, or are intentionally promoting a world where evil is lauded and viewed as an ultimate power.

To counter the evil influence of Halloween, we need to join together and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints over the evil in their day.  Many leaders in the past and present have fulfilled the mandate of destroying the works of the devil through their sacrificial commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.

Rather than “hide” in the face of evil, we should unabashedly and boldly create an alternative that is positive and uplifting; that celebrates good over evil and the triumph of God over Satan. We need to provide an environment that also makes room for heaps of fun while using the day as a “teachable moment” to celebrate God’s protection, provision and purpose for our lives.

We are called to make a difference in this world by being different from this world, and one great vehicle for showcasing our love for Christ is how we choose to engage with the world during Halloween.  As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness.  There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries.

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.”


Faith Verses Fear!

Grace For The Journey


25Oct  Science tells us that all babies have two inborn fears incorporated into their human DNA and their immature nervous systems:

The fear of loud noises


The fear of falling.

Other than these two fears, every fear we experience throughout life is acquired . . .  this includes . . .

  • The fear of closed spaces to fear of open spaces.
  • The fear of being abandoned.
  • The fear of public speaking.
  • The fear of darkness.
  • The fear of death.

Some of these fears protect us and others paralyze us.

So . . . how do we effectively deal with those fears that can paralyze us and prevent us from growing into the person God is calling us to be?  Here are two steps you can take toward victory in the ongoing battle between faith and fear.

Step #1: Remember the promises of God

An important aspect of this is,

We cannot remember the promises of God

If we don’t know the promises of God

And the only way to know the promises of God

Is to immerse ourselves in the Word of God.

How much time have you been spending God’s Word every day?  How many promises have you committed to memory?  Look at just three of the numerous promises in God’s Word . . .

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”  (Psalm 27:1)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

There simply is no substitute for spending time in the Word of God if we are ever going to conquer our fears by faith in Jesus Christ.

Step #2: Keep your focus on Christ, not your circumstances

I know this is easier said than done, which is why Step #1 is so critical in this process. The single common denominator for those who focus more on Christ than on their circumstances is their knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.  Like the psalmist, they know that the best defense against fear is a good offense.  Listen to what the Bible says . . .

“I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.  They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.”  (Psalm 34:4-5)

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust, I will not fear; what can flesh do to me?”   (Psalm 56:3-4)

“I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.  The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”   (Psalm 118:5-6)

Alexander MacLaren, an English minister of the late 1800s, put it this way . . .

“Faith, which is trust, and fear are opposite poles. If a man has the one, he can scarcely have the other in vigorous operation. He that has his trust set upon God does not need to dread anything except the weakening or the paralyzing of that trust.”

With a mind and heart filled with the Word of God, and with our focus fixed firmly on Christ (rather than our circumstances), faith will conquer any fear we face.

We have His Word on it!

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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



The Way To Ultimate Victory, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


29Oct Does your life seem like a constant battle between your will and God’s will?  Every child of God feels this way, because that is exactly what goes on inside us each day!

The Bible says in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh (sinful nature) lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would do.”

To be sure, we are delivered from the dominion and reign of sin in our lives when we are united to Christ by grace through faith.  But sin remains in us all, and we all experience the tension Paul described to the Galatian Christians.

And this is an internal conflict between flesh and spirit – between the old and new nature.  And the strange thing is, that in this conflict the power and faculties of the Christian seem to be occupied at one time by the one, and at another time by the other.  The same intellect, will, and affections come under different influences, each seeking to control and direct our heart.

A tug-of-war seems to be the best way to describe the battle within for every child of God born of grace.  How often we feel like there are two opposing teams inside of us, pulling in opposite directions on the same rope!  Sometimes the good team wins and sometimes the bad team wins.  But in the end – for the one who has acknowledged that he is a sinner, that he cannot save himself, and have asked Jesus to forgive him of his sin and give him the gift of eternal life – we know that our victory has been assured, and the new, spiritual nature will prevail – not because there is anything special about you or me, but because of the work on the cross and empty tomb which Christ accomplished.

If we refuse to acknowledge the truth that we are in a daily, ongoing struggle against sin, we will not make any progress against it.  It is only by affirming the truth that there is such a battle that we are set free to take sword to our enemies.

As we look to Jesus as the One who is fighting on our behalf,

We rest in the truth that the Bible declares in Romans 6:14,

“Sin shall not be your master,

Because you are not under law,

But under grace.”

We are not to be mastered by sin,

Because sin is not our master.

Jesus is our Master . . .

But sin will seek to entangle us along the way to heaven.

However, enabled by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, we can claim the promise of Romans 6:12; 5:17-21; 6:6,12, “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one, much more they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  For as by on man’s disobedience many were made sinner, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.  Moreover, the law enter, that the offense might abound.  But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ” … “Knowing this that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” …  “Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”

We must remember that willpower will not win the battle for us;

We must always acknowledge and depend upon the power

That God has given to us in Christ to fight the good fight of faith,

Knowing that ultimate victory has been assured.

These words from the Bible should be a constant reminder of the tug-of-war we are called to each day we are on this side of the grave: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)

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.”


Are You Trusting In Your Might, Or Your Mighty One? Part 1

Grace For The Journey


29Oct  A big part of a pastor’s job involves sitting at a table, coaching and counseling others.  I am continually confronted by situations where it becomes painfully clear that the root cause of a person’s distress is what he or she is trusting in – and I’ve found that far too many people are trusting in their own personal might.  The result is less than what we’d hoped for at best . . . and a train wreck at worst.

You see, we always have two choices in life: we can trust in our own might . . . or we can trust in the Mighty One!

The Bible says in Psalm 50:1-6, “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.  From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.  Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before Him, and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that He may judge his people: ‘Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.’ And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge.”

After reading a passage like that, it seems kind of silly to trust in our own might, doesn’t it?  The psalmist began his exaltation with three splendid divine names: Mighty One, God, and Lord.  How mighty is this Mighty One?  First, we see that from east to west, God rules over the whole earth. Next we see that our Mighty One has fire at His disposal, a fire of righteous judgment that devours before Him, while a tempest rages around Him.

We know from the Book of Psalms that none of these things are random or beyond God’s sovereign hand; lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds, all these do His bidding (Psalm 148:8).  He makes flames of fire His servants and rides on the wings of the wind (Psalm 104:3-4).  He, and He alone, can command the lightning bolt precisely where it should strike (Job 36:32).  Indeed, He is a Mighty One!

God is in control of all things, and uses all things for His glory and to accomplish His purposes.  But there is more!  We learn from the Bible that this Mighty One has made a covenant with His people.  A covenant is a solemn agreement between persons; when one of those persons is the Mighty One, you can count on it to be fulfilled and you can trust that it will come about.  So . . . we should never trust in our own might but always trust in our Mighty One!

  • In your weakness He is your strength.
  • In your brokenness He is your healing.
  • In your restlessness He is your peace.
  • In your pain He is your comfort.
  • In your doubt He is your truth.
  • In your fear He is your faith.
  • In your darkness He is your light.
  • In your uncertainty He is your hope.
  • And in your death He is your life.

Your Mighty One is your everything!

He is the answer to every question,

The solution to every problem.

As a father of four children, I can tell you that there is nothing that blesses me more than when they come to me for advice, help, or simply just to talk.  It blesses me, and I hope I am able to provide a blessing for them.  But how much MORE is our mighty, heavenly Father able to bless us when we come to Him!  And yet . . . all too often we trust in our own might and neglect coming to our Mighty One.  Or we think of coming to Him as the last resort, when all else has failed, rather than coming to Him right at the outset and then waiting confidently for His promised deliverance.

I pray that today’s message will remind you – and me – to reach out to the only true Source of might: our Mighty One.  Because God is a covenant-keeping God, you can trust in every promise He has made, including the one to never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Now, that is a “might” worth trusting in!

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.”


A God Near at Hand, Part 3

Grace For The Journey


23Oct In Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s blog, we examined examples of the great God of heaven and earth interacting with His creation, interacting with, and participating in the lives of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Hagar, and Jacob.  Today, I want to continue looking at this great biblical truth.

The Old Testament contains many other examples.  For instance, God intervened in Gideon’s life, speaking with him several times over an extended period (see Judges 6 and 7), and He also appeared and spoke to Samson’s parents (Judges 13:2-21).  In both accounts it is apparent that they knew to whom they were talking, and their responses to this interaction with God is similar to those of Hagar and Jacob.

Since it is obvious that God was involved in the activities of people in Old Testament times, if He does not change (Malachi 3:6), should He not interact with people in the New Testament era?  The answer to that is obvious.  A survey of the New Testament makes clear that He has appeared many times to His people.  Of course, He lived for 33 years in the flesh and interacted with many thousands of people.  After His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and to as many as five hundred at once (I Corinthians 15:4-7). Later, He spoke personally with Peter (Acts 10:10-16; 11:5-10), several times with Paul (Acts 9:3-6; 18:9-10; 23:11; II Corinthians 12:2-9; and to John (Revelation 1:9-19, etc.).

Beyond these recorded instances, The Bible makes a great comforting statement in Jeremiah 23:23-24, “’Am I a God near at hand,’ says the LORD, ‘and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the LORD; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD.”

To us, there should be no question about whether God is present with us.  He is not only watching what is happening in the world today as He ushers His plan to a decisive and awesome conclusion, but He is also intimately concerned about each of our lives. The Bible declares in Luke 12:7, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” God is indeed aware, informed, moving within His creation – especially with us.

From what is recorded in the Old Testament, in these encounters God was physically present in a human-like form.  He was close at hand and worked with His people throughout that time.  But what about during the church era?  Have any of us in this age been contacted by God through a burning bush?  How many of us have physically wrestled with God at some point in our lives?  We have never heard of such things happening in our time, since it appears that God has ceased using such wondrous means to communicate with us – at least for now.

How do we know that He is still around and interested in us?  Is He still a God that is near?  Of course, He is!  Hebrews 13:8 is an echo of Malachi 3:6 on the subject of God’s unchanging nature: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  He is still just as involved in His creation as always.

So, how close is He?  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all capture in words that God become flesh and lived a sinless life, healed the sick, taught His disciples, and give His life so that it would be possible for us to be reconciled with God.  Why would anyone ever think that God has left us when He has shown throughout history that He is right here, intimately involved, sacrificing Himself to bring about His purpose?

What the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 helps us to dial in on just how near He is: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

1Corinthians 6:19-20 repeats and expands the thought: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Jesus’ sinless life and subsequent death upon the cross enabled those who would be convicted of their sin, convinced of the need to accept Christ, to repent of their sins and received God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.  This justifying work and the gift of the Holy Spirit allows us to approach His very throne and enter His presence at any time through the covering blood of Jesus Christ our Savior (Hebrews 2:17; 4:16).

Throughout human history, God has preserved His Word, the Bible.  We now have access, not only to the written Word of God through which He most definitely speaks to us, but we also have access to His Spirit and to a merciful and faithful High Priest (Hebrews 2:17), the Forerunner who paved the way that we might be brought into this wonderful relationship with God.  In addition, Jesus tells us in John 14:19-24 that He and the Father are not just with us but in us.  God cannot be any more involved in our lives than that!  The God we worship is not a distant, remote Deity but intimately involved in His creation and especially in the lives of His people.

We can take comfort in knowing that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  He is present and working with His creation, working with and in us (Philippians 1:6.  And how long will He be doing this?  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:13, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”  By His nature, we know He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  His Holy Spirit resides in us, and He is ready and able to intervene.  Truly, our God is near at hand!

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.”



A God Near at Hand, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


23Oct  As we saw yesterday, people have different ideas about God’s involvement in their lives and in His creation.  Deists believe that a Creator God exists but that He is disinterested in humanity and does not intervene in its affairs.  Of course, most professing Christians reject the deistic creed, holding that, conversely, God is intimately involved in His creation and especially with those whom He has called into His church.

In the early chapters of the book of Genesis, we see a pattern of God’s involvement with humanity, which we will continue to develop.  Yesterday we began by looking at Genesis 1:27-28 where the Bible begins to teach us a about God’s direct involvement with man and His creation.  Today we will look at additional passages of Scripture that reveal this truth.

2) In Genesis 6:13-24, God intervenes directly in human affairs, informing Noah about the violent state of mankind and instructing him to build the ark to save his family and the animals He would bring to him.  God proceeds to execute righteous judgment by causing water to flood the earth so that only the eight people that He had chosen are saved to live into the new era of human life.

3) Genesis 11:1-9 relates the story of the Tower of Babel, in which God’s sees the activities of man.  He is not idly standing back in the vastness of space just letting time tick on.  On the contrary, He is involved in observing the advancements of humanity, judging its deeds and intentions, and in this case, intervening decisively so that His plan would continue to move forward as He designed and at the pace He desired.

4) As we move forward in time, we see God speaking to Abram in Genesis 12:1.  We should not gloss over this.  Sometimes we read a biblical account but fail to grasp its full import.  But note in this verse that God spoke to Abram.  Their conversation was probably similar to what Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden of Eden.  God was present, talking with Abram, instructing him on where to go and what to do.  They had a personal, intimate relationship; God and Abram were friends (James 2:23).

5) Later in Genesis, the Angel of Lord appears and speaks to Hagar, telling her that He would make a great nation from her child (Genesis 16:7-16).  Keep in mind that God stood before Hagar, appearing as a mighty angel and directly addressing her.  Notice what she says in verse 13 once He has finished speaking, “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.”

Notice her response is, “You are the God Who sees me!”  She is amazed that God was interested in, and would make something of an insignificant Egyptian maidservant.

6) In Genesis 17, the Lord appears again to Abram, who falls on his face as God tells him more about the covenant that He is making with him and instructs him on how he should conduct his life from then on.  The Lord changes his name to Abraham, letting him know that many nations will descend from him and make him exceedingly fruitful.  The Lord is not a God who stands back and lets things happen!   He is not passive in the least; when He wills to do something, He takes direct and personal action.

7) In Genesis 18:1-15, He appears yet again to Abraham, this time accompanied by two angels, and He does not speak and quickly disappear.  He stays and talks with Abraham for hours – long enough for a fine meal to be prepared for Him from scratch and eaten!  This is not a God who is far away or for some reason has avoided interacting or intervening in His creation!

There are many other examples of this kind,


We have not yet exhausted the book of Genesis!

We will note one other example because it is helpful to demonstrate, not only that God personally interacted with many people, but also that their responses to their encounters with Deity can be instructive and inspiring.

8) This particular example of God interacting with an individual is found in Genesis 32:27-30, the account of God meeting Jacob as he returns to Canaan and begins wrestling with him.  We see that this encounter and response from Jacob is similar to what we saw from Hagar.

Those verses say, “So He said to him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Jacob.  And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.’  Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me Your name, I pray.’ And He said, ‘Why is it that you ask about My name?’ And He blessed him there.  So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.’”

Hagar’s response is more rhetorical – “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” – but in the form of a question nonetheless, as if she could not believe her own eyes.  Jacob’s response, on the other hand, is matter-of-fact: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”  He knew he had just had a personal, face-to-face, encounter with God – a long wrestling match and conversation.  That is awesome!

We will look at this truth further in the near future.  We will see that God’s interaction with human beings did not end with the close of the book of Genesis.

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.”



A God Near at Hand, Part 1

Grace For The Journey


23Oct  In my blog today and tomorrow I want to present the truth of what the Bible teaches about God’s presence.  The technology that we have today has allowed us explore the vastness of the universe.  Do you realize that astrologists have concluded  it would take us 100,000 years traveling at the speed-of-light to travel the entire spiral shape of the Milky Way.  Moody Bible Institute’s did a documentary entitled “The Milky Way and Beyond.”  They end the presentation with these words: “Finally, after ten billion years, we decelerate and pause to observe a theoretical view of the universe’s large-scale structure. Countless billions of galaxies are now seen to comprise chains, masses, and thread-like structures that stretch across the cosmos, separated by enormous regions of empty space. It is a spectacular tapestry so vast and diverse in its design. But the power of its Creator must truly surpass all human understanding.”

These huge measurements and the spectacular glory of the universe around us are humbling.  They should help to bring God into sharp focus, at least in His awesome power and imagination as Creator.  Such a great God can do anything!  How can people like Deists posit that, yes, a Supreme Being created all of this, yet He has no interaction with mankind?

Deism, a popular intellectual movement a few centuries ago, is a belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, while rejecting supernatural revelation.  More simply put, according to, it is “belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.” Deists reject the idea that God is involved in any way with His creation.

The vast amount of space in the universe might give some a reason to believe that God is off in a far corner of the universe.  Even so, most of us would agree that it is not difficult to find evidence – both biblically and personally – that we worship a Creator who is very much involved in His creation.  Perhaps it is good to review just how involved He really is.

Most Christians, and even Deists, readily accept John 1:1-5 as true.  The Bible says in those verses, “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 nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, whom we know as the Word, has always been God and with God for eternity.  But . . .

How involved has God been in His Creation

The thousands of years since its creation?

Is He actively involved in what is going on here on Earth,

Interacting with it, continuing His creative work?

Or has He simply created


Left things to work themselves out?

Perhaps, as Deists believe, He “has wound up the universal clock and is simply watching it until it stops ticking!”

We may initially think, “That’s crazy!” and “We know better!”  We can rattle off a few scriptures from memory, which show that God is involved.  But do we really know that?

At times, for various reasons, God delays in intervening in people’s lives.  Do you feel sometimes that God has delayed answering your prayers or giving you help?  When you fail to receive an immediate answer to prayer, or we go through a difficulty that continues with no apparent end, does the thought creep into your minds that God is far off or uninvolved?

The Bible teaches that God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15); the third heaven is His throne (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).  The universe is a vast space.  Does God even have time to be involved even with something as big as this planet?  Could He possibly have time to be involved in our seemingly insignificant lives?

The book of Genesis teaches about the beginning of all things, including our world and universe.  As we study the Scriptures we see that they show a pattern of God’s interaction with His creation.

1) We will begin in Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

In these verses, God makes man and woman and instructs them about what they need to do.  He gives them their marching orders to get them started in the right direction.  In Genesis 2:15, God tells them to tend and keep the Garden, informing them about which trees they should and should not eat.  In Genesis 3;8-10, we see Him interacting directly with Adam and Eve, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’”

Here, we see God walking in the Garden with them and speaking to them.  That is significant involvement!  Can it actually be argued that God is not engaged with His creation?  He created, then immediately began instructing Adam and Eve regarding how to live and tend His creation.  He gave them their initial training for a successful life. He also began to prepare them to live a godly life.  This is a Deity, the awesome Creator God, who is actively involved with His creation and personally working with it to bring His purpose to fruition in humanity.

Tomorrow, we will continue to examine Scripture to see God’s intimate involvement with both mankind and His creation.

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.”


Our Hope Is In Jesus, Part 3

Grace For The Journey


18Oct  Any Star Wars fans out there?  Other than the movie sequels of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings,  my grandsons have this epic move series at the top of their list.  Remember the opening scenes of Episode IV?  After a laser battle between a little spaceship (the good guys) and the ominous Imperial Star Destroyer (the bad guys), we see Princess Leia and her loyal fighters quickly overpowered by Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers.  The situation is dire and our heroine has time only to pass a message on to her faithful robot R2D2, who is then jettisoned to safety on a nearby planet, into the hands of Luke Skywalker who discovers Leia’s message: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!” The message is repeated over and over: “Help me . . . you’re my only hope!”

That simple little phrase encapsulates David’s plea in the first verse of Psalm 51:1, where he pleads, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to multitude of Your tender mercies.”  After fighting a year-long battle against the sin and the forces of darkness in his own heart, he had reached a point of desperation.  Finally, he admitted that he could not overcome the guilt of his sin by his own cleverness, charm, power, or position.  Nor could his inner turmoil be quieted by a clever spin from a PR department.  In the face of the mess he had made of his life – adultery, deception, murder . . .

He was left with only one hope:

A plea for mercy from God

Who held all the cards

Regarding David’s cleansing.

One thing I have learn in my walk with my precious Lord is that . . .

Whether it’s the overwhelming force

Of life’s struggles

Or the guilt of our sin,

Our only hope is that

God in His mercy will forgive and deliver us.

As David is led by the Holy Spirit to write in Psalm 41:22, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God; for I shall et praise Him The help of my countenance and my God.”

The good news for David,

And for those of us who need to come

To this same tipping point in our walk with Christ

Is that our hope is never misplaced

When we place it entirely and completely in God.

And our confidence

In His willingness

To bestow delivering mercy

Is grounded, as David said,

In the fact that

God is a God of unfailing love

And great compassion.

We don’t need more meds or self-help positive spins on life when we are beyond ourselves.  We need God!  David said it best when he penned the words of Psalm 25:3, “Indeed, let no one who waits (hopes) on You be ashamed.”

In the midst of the turmoil of life and in the mire of our own sin, one simple prayer offers us the promise of rescue and deliverance.

“Help me, Lord Jesus. You’re my only hope!”

Where do you go for strength and solutions when you are in need?  When was the last time you turned to God to find help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16?  What characteristics of God can you list to give you confidence that, when you are in need, He can be counted on?  Read Psalm 25:1-22, 42:1-11, and 51:1-19 prayerfully, and claim their promises for yourself.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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


Our Hope Is In Jesus, Part 2

Grace For The Journey


18Oct  Yesterday we looked at John 11:25-26 and saw how Jesus’ resurrection is to be the substance of our own hope in everyday life.  This whole event happened so that our attention would be drawn – not to the event itself – but to the One who had performed it.  In today’s blog I want us to look again at Jesus’ words in verses 25-26.  As we do, we find the following principles.

First, we see that . . .


Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  He didn’t simply say what the Jewish people had known from the Scriptures – that there is a promised resurrection of the dead.


He made Himself

The central focus

Of that resurrection hope.

In fact, His original words as they’re found in Greek are emphatic: “I – even I – am the resurrection and the life.”

This is the first great lesson that we should learn – There is no hope for resurrection – no hope for victory over death – apart from Jesus Christ.

He isn’t simply passing on the hope of resurrection to us.

He isn’t even just our example of what resurrection will be like.

He is those things; but He’s much more.

He declares that He Himself IS the resurrection and the life.

Lazarus could not walk out of the tomb

Until the Son of God said, “Lazarus, come forth!”

The apostle John was an eyewitness of these events.  He later wrote, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).

“Resurrection” and “life” are found in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone;

Because He alone is “the resurrection and the life”.

Second, we see that . . .


Because Jesus Christ alone is “the resurrection and the life;” and because He Himself has tasted death for us – bearing our sins on the Cross; and because Himself now lives forever more – having been raised from the dead three days later; we now have hope in Him!  If we have placed our trust in Jesus, then the great truth of the resurrection can permeate every area of our lives, and change everything about us.

Our whole lives can be characterized by hope.

Jesus Himself said that He presents hope to us in two ways:

(1) He presents hope concerning those who have died in Him.

He told Martha, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live” (John 11:25).  This is a hope that comforts us with respect toward those who have passed on before us.

When death has taken away someone we love, our sorrow is real.  We miss them; and we long for their fellowship again.  We genuinely grieve.  Jesus Himself knew what that grief felt like.  But because Jesus Himself is “the resurrection and the life,” our grief is experienced in the context of future joy and victory (1 Corinthians 15:19).  The apostle Paul wrote to his fellow believers in the city of Thessalonica, because many of their loved ones had died for their faith through persecution.  He acknowledged their sorrow; and he then told them in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

And (2), Jesus presents hope concerning those of us who live.

Jesus not only meant for this hope to be a comfort to us when we lose a beloved brother or sister in the Lord by death.  It’s also meant to give us, who are living, hope even while we live.

Jesus also told Martha, “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:26).  Literally, He used an emphatic negative construction that would read something like this: “… he shall in no way die unto eternity.”  As Christians, we live our lives with the recognition that death may come to us at any time; but we also live with the recognition that death is in no way permanent.  We will in no way die unto eternity.  Death, for us, is only temporary; and so, we live in hope.

The apostle Paul lived very much in that hope. He was led by the Holy Spirit to write in 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

We can “know” this too, because of the truth and glory that God has revealed through His Son Jesus Christ – who is “the resurrection and the life”.

So then, every day the believer celebrates the resurrection of our Savior from the dead.

But in our celebration,

Let’s make sure that we don’t miss

One of the great, life-impacting lessons

God wants us to learn about the risen Savior.

Our celebration of His resurrection

Isn’t meant to be something distant and lofty –

Something somehow separated from our everyday experience.

God wants us to see that Jesus Himself

Is the substance of real hope for everyone

Who has placed their trust in Him.

He declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  After He made that affirmation, He asked, “Do you believe this?”  Well . . . Do you?

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.”


Our Hope Is In Jesus, Part 1

Grace For The Journey


18Oct  There is a myriad of bad news all around us.  One cannot turn on the television, listen to the radio, or search the internet without constantly being bombarded with news stories or opinions that are filled with bad news and even more bad news.  It seems that all the top news stories are on the disasters, deaths, deceptions, and disadvantages that people encounter in daily life.  Only when I turn a particular Christian radio station or internet site, am I reassured that I will hear “positive and encouraging” programming!  It is a reminder of the helpfulness and helplessness that comes from a world filled with sin and rebellion against God.

Yet, the believer is has hope, even in the face of hopelessness.


Because our hope is not in one who rose from depression,

Disease, disadvantage, or even despair;


Our hope is in the One who rose from the dead!

Is there anything more hopeless than death?  I can’t think of anything more devastating than . . .

  • The death of our comfort.
  • The death of our desires.
  • The death of our plans.
  • The death of our promises.
  • The death of our career.
  • The death of our dreams.

Yet, even when we seem to be facing the death of the life we hoped to be living, we can still have a joyful, expectant hope, because the One we hope in rose from the dead!

And just as Jesus rose from the dead and lives forevermore, all those who have placed their trust in His atoning work on their behalf shall rise from all the death they have experienced in their lives.

  • Through Jesus our comfort can rise from the dead.
  • Through Jesus our dreams can rise from the dead.
  • Through Jesus our plans can rise from the dead.
  • Through Jesus, our promises canl rise from the dead.
  • Through Jesus, our career can rise from the dead.
  • Through Jesus, our dreams shall rise from the dead.

And as good as all that is, there is something even better . . .

We shall rise bodily from the dead on that great day

When Jesus returns to finish what He started.

The Bible records in John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

Our hope for resurrection and eternal life is found in a wonderful Person – Jesus Christ.

Over the next two days, we will look at John 11:25-26 and see how Jesus’ resurrection is to be the substance of our own hope in everyday life – and of the truth of Jesus’ words to His followers; “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

There are certain truths

God presents to us

In the Bible that are central.

They are so crucial,

That every aspect of

Our spiritual well-being

Depends on our believing them.

Someone has called them “trickle-down truths.”  Our orientation toward them will trickle down to every other area of life.  The Bible’s teaching about the hope of the resurrection is one of those “trickle-down” truths.  Everything else in our life will depend on how we are oriented to the hope of the resurrection.

If it is true that we who are in Christ can expect – as the Bible teaches – to one day be resurrected from the dead, then the fear of death is ultimately conquered in us; and we can go on to live a life fundamentally characterized by confident hope, peace and joy.

We can rejoice in hope just as King David prayed in Psalm 16:9-11: “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Sheol [that is, in the abode of the dead], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

By contrast, if your heart is not gripped by that hope – if you are like so many today who simply believe that, when you die, you just die and that’s the end of it – then that lack of faith in the Bible’s teaching about the resurrection will trickle down into every area of life as well.  As the writer of Ecclesiastes suggests, the man or woman who has no hope of resurrection is no better off than an animal: “For what happens to the sons of men also happens to the animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other.  Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.  All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

How grim!  And if this is true of men or women who spend their whole lives pursuing their own pleasures and interests; how much more true is it of those who would give ourselves in sacrifice to the concerns and interests of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!  As the Bible says of Christians in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

But the Good News we will learn about today will lead us to affirm that, because Jesus rose from the dead, we live in hope.  Our whole lives are characterized by hope because Jesus’ tomb is empty and He is alive today!  He Himself is a ‘living hope’.  This passage of Scripture teaches us that because He is alive today, He Himself is to be the substance of our own personal experience of hope in the midst of all the challenges of daily life.   Jesus said, in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

Is there any area in your life where you find some kind of “death” knocking at your door? Remember, Jesus is bigger than any problem you are currently facing and He has a Word that will guide you through every storm.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life.

He and He alone takes what is dead and brings to it life.  And that includes every set of circumstances that may seem utterly hopeless to you.

In Him you always have hope!

Tomorrow we will look further into this biblical truth.

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.”