How Do You See The Bible?

Grace For The Journey


31jan  Is it primarily a manual of rules and regulations, designed to tell you how to have your best life now?  Is it a how-to book to help live your life better?  Is it a story book about Bible characters – some who were heroes to inspire us, others who were hellions to instruct us?  Is it a compilation of sixty-six disconnected books, each one telling different stories about a variety of characters, designed to provide us a menu of moralistic lessons?

Well . . . here is how God sees the Bible . . .

1 Supernatural Story

1 Storyteller

1 Savior for man

And His name is Jesus Christ!

Contrary to ever-increasing popular belief, the Bible is not a manual of moral lessons for wise Christian living.

The individual books of the Bible are to be understood

Within the framework of the greater whole,

Which sets forth the Lord Jesus Christ on every page

As the only Savior of humanity.

The Storyteller (God)

Is telling us one epic story,

Which exposes and exalts

The Savior of that story:

Emmanuel, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible records Jesus saying in John 5:39,46, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me . . . “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me.”

Jesus Christ is not only

The Sum, Substance, and Subject

Of all Scripture,

He is the Source of it.

The biblical narrative in both the Old and New Testaments guide us into a greater understanding, knowledge, and experience of the unsearchable riches of Christ.

The Bible tells us in John 1:1 and 14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” . . . “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus Himself brought His disciples deeper into this truth

By showing them that what was concealed in

The Old Testament was revealed in the New Testament.

Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 24:44-45, “The He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the psalms concerning Me.”  And He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

The New Testament clearly sets forth Jesus as the Savior in the story.

The overarching message of the Gospels

Is the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The apostles preached Christ.

The epistles teach Christ.

The apostle Paul made it clear

That the New Testament is all about Jesus:

“We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Martin Luther said it succinctly: “Jesus Christ is the center and circumference of the entire Bible.”

The New Testament clearly sets Jesus forth as the Savior, but what about the Old Testament?  The Savior in the Bible is not found in the giants of the faith in the Old Testament, including Moses, Joshua, and David.

Jesus is the fulfillment of these men:

The new Moses . . . the new Joshua . . . the better David . . .

All who pointed to and foreshadowed the coming of Christ.

Jesus is the pattern of and the Person in the entire Word of God.  John Calvin rightly observed,

“The Scriptures should be read

With the aim of finding Christ in them.

Whoever turns aside from this object,

Even though he wears himself out

All his life in learning,

He will never reach the knowledge of the truth.”

So how do you see the Bible?  If Christ is not at the center of every paragraph, chapter, page, and book, you are not seeing it clearly.

There really is only one revelation in all of Scripture,

And that revelation is to be found in Jesus.

I do no violence to Scripture whatsoever when I put the words of Colossians 1:16-18 into the mouth of our Lord:

“For by Me all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Me and for Me.  I am before all things, and in Me, all things consist.  And I am the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things I may have the preeminence.”

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.”


Lions And Tigers And Bears . . . Amen!

Grace For The Journey


30jan  You may recognize the title of today’s message as a play on the words from one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history.  In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companions were confronted with many dangers on the road to Oz; at one point they cried out in fear, “Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!”

We Christians face many dangers on the road to our heavenly destination, but unlike the characters in Dorothy’s dream, the Gospel empowers us to cry, “Lions and tigers and bears, Amen!”  We will walk “through many dangers, toils, and snares” on this side of the grave, but the Christian is empowered to cry “Amen” instead of “O my!” for two important reasons:


The first thing every Christian must remember is that we have been promised to encounter a lifetime of lions, tigers, and bears.  We should not be surprised by the dangers and difficulties that beset us, because we live in a fallen and broken world as fallen broken people.  If our Lord received a crown of thorns for His head, should we expect to receive a crown of glory for ours?  He was betrayed; we will be betrayed.  He was falsely accused; we will be falsely accused.  He was slandered; we will be slandered.  He was abandoned; we will be abandoned.  He was mocked; we will be mocked.  He was rejected; we will be rejected.

The Bible never promised us a walk in the park!

Look at what the Bible teaches us . . .

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.”  (John 16:33)

“It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.”  (Philippians 1:29)

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

We should not be surprised by the many lions, tigers, and bears we face on a daily basis because we have been promised them in Scripture.

The Christian faith is forged in the fiery trials of life.

Furthermore, we need not fear them nor flee them because of . . .


Once we understand the promise of life’s challenges,

We need to rest in the Lord’s power to face them.

We do not face our problems, challenges, and difficulties alone and we do not fight them in our own strength.

Our power is in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says in Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.”

And it says in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And in Galatians 2:20, the Bible says, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

So . . . what lions, tigers, and bears have you been facing lately?  Have you been surprised by the number of them or their ferocity?

Faith in the focus of our faith (Jesus Christ)

Will help us overcome our fear

Of every opposition to our faith.

Because God has ordained all things (Romans 11:36), no matter what storms beset us, we can rest in Him.  He is not only with us in the storm, He sent the storm for two important reasons: for His glory and our good.

By the way, when Jesus warned, “In the world you will have tribulation,” He didn’t stop there!  He added, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

That is a promise that equips us

To move from “Oh my!” to “Amen!” . . .

No matter how fierce the trials facing us!

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.”


Who Is The Christian’s Chief Adversary?

Grace For The Journey


29jan  There is a continuous rise and fall of nations and empires, their power and influence advance and recede like the tides of the sea.  As one empire fades away, another rises. We are affected by these surges even today.  Only God knows how they will turn out. God’s people are affected negatively when a nation is defeated or positively when it is exalted in victory.

The latter has been the case for the modern church in the United States, as it has enjoyed the success of our nation’s global supremacy.  However, as valiant and virtuous our forefathers’ efforts were in pursuit of religious liberty, the sun seems to be setting on America.  To those who are watching, it is growing apparent that an adversary worthy of our opposition stands before us.

Today, God’s people face a tireless, unremitting adversary.  During our lifetimes, we have been subject to our nation’s slow spiritual and moral decline, the development of a destructive and dangerous world view, and the rise of foreign powers.  The combination of fallen man’s efforts to live without God and the tireless and treacherous efforts of our  chief adversary, Satan the Devil, is a constant challenge in our life and ministry.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  The Bible portrays Satan as a vicious predator hungrily seeking its prey.  Lions hunt in packs called “prides” that sneak up on unwary prey and catch the weakest or slowest in a herd.  A lion’s fur provides excellent camouflage, so that most prey must rely on other senses to detect its approach.  Spiritually, we would be wise to ensure that our senses are on high alert for Satan’s approach.

Curiously, Peter describes Satan as a “roaring” lion, suggesting that he is not interested in stealth but proudly announces his presence to cause terror and panic.  A person is much more likely to trip and fall when fleeing in terror than when standing fast in faith. But Peter indicates that we have no need to fear Satan if we remain faithful to Christ.  He is led by God to write in 1 Peter 5:9, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  We can draw a measure of strength knowing that we are not alone in our fight – faithful family members, friends, and fellow believers have overcome similar attacks.  If they can do it, we can too.

Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, exemplify this attitude in their resistance to Nebuchadnezzar’s evil decree in Daniel 3.  They reject the order to worship the image Nebuchadnezzar had constructed (Daniel 3:4-6).  They do not try to fight the king’s command but simply refuse to worship the image, which they know would be idolatry.  They are faithful, keeping the standards that God had set, and by doing so, make themselves adversaries of Nebuchadnezzar.

Like the roaring lion, Nebuchadnezzar is furious, demanding that they either worship the image or burn in the furnace.

He wants them to fear him more than God.

The three friends answer his demand in Daniel 3:17-18, “[O]ur God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

What an excellent display of faith!  They know God has the power to deliver them, but they are not entirely certain that God will.  He may intend that they become martyrs. Either way, they remain respectful, addressing Nebuchadnezzar as king and declaring that despite his threat of death, they would not disobey God by yielding to him.

They would rather face the roaring lion head on

Than make God their enemy!

As fearsome as the roaring lion is,

He is nothing compared to the Lion of Judah.

Jesus summed up the desire and design of Satan in John 10:10 where He says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy . . .”  God has told us in His Word that it is important to know the strategies that Satan uses to seek to destroy and defeat us.  In 2 Corinthians 2:11 the Bible states, “Lest Satan should take advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  God wants us to be aware of what Satan uses in his battle against us.  We get a clear picture of how Satan operates from a review of the Bible’s teaching of Satan’s schemes.

  • Genesis 3 introduces us to Satan in the form of a serpent who is tempting our first parents.
  • Matthew 4 introduces us to the devil who is tempting the Lord Jesus in the wilderness.
  • In Matthew 12 we see Satan’s effort causing blindness.
  • In Mark 5 we see demons cause a man to be a wild man, hurting himself, and unable to be controlled.
  • In Mark 9 we see Satan’s influence in causing self-destruction.

The Bible gets even more specific in telling us what Satan’s mission is.

  • He is our adversary, seeking to destroy and devour – Luke 22:31-32; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 5:8.
  • Satan is the father of lies – John 8:44.
  • He blinds the minds of unbelievers – 2 Corinthians 4:4.
  • He transforms himself into an angel of light – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
  • He does signs and wonders – 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
  • Satan snatches the Word of God out of people’s hearts and chokes faith – Mark 4:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:5.
  • Satan causes some sickness and disease – Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38.
  • Satan is a murderer – John 8:44; 1 John 3:12; Revelation 2:10.
  • Satan fights against the purpose and plans of pastors and missionaries – 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 3:5.
  • Satan accuses Christians before God – Job 1:11; Revelation 12:10.

Though we cannot make peace or agree with Satan lest we be opposed to God and perish, we can make peace and agree with God through Jesus Christ in humble, sincere repentance.  If we sin against God, we need to repent.  If we sin against a brother, we need to humble ourselves and seek their forgiveness.  It is as serious as murder!

The great good news is, in Christ we can overcome Satan.  Christ has delivered us from Satan’s plans and power.  The Bible is very clear that because of what Christ did on the cross and through His resurrection Satan is a defeated foe.  Look at what God declares in His Word:

Hebrews 2:14 – “. . . that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil.”

Colossians 2:15 – “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.”

1 John 2:3:8 – “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Revelation 12:11 – “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

The Bible is clear

Our deliverance from sin and Satan is

GROUNDED   and GAINED only through Christ.

John 10:10b – “I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Revelation 7:10 – “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

As we surrender to the Spirit and Scripture , we will always be challenged by our spiritual Adversary, the roaring lion, and his minions.  Like Peter, James instructs us, ““Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  We must never submit to him and thereby make ourselves an enemy of Christ, lest He “come to [us] quickly and remove [our] lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:5).  Instead, we are to, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:8, 10).

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.”


Surrendering Control Of Every Aspect Of Our Lives To God

Grace For The Journey


25january  A part of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”  (Verse 10).  Many of us have been reciting these words since we were children . . . but do we really know what we are praying for?  Do we understand how dangerous and radical these words really are?  Do we realize how the truth of these words actually lived out in our lives would turn our world upside down?

Why is this so?

Because, as children of Adam and Eve,

Our sinful nature would infinitely prefer

To build our own little kingdom,

Rather than build the Kingdom of God.

And this self-centeredness does not cease

When God grants us the faith

To become children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7);

Even after we are saved by God’s grace,

That old sin nature still fights

To continue construction

On its little kingdom of one (Galatians 5:17).

So . . . what kingdom have you been building lately?  “His” kingdom? . . . or “Your” kingdom?

You won’t know whose kingdom you are advancing simply by measuring it against the challenges, obstacles, persecutions, and storms you may be facing.

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean

You are doing God’s work!

Everyone on this side of the grave faces trials for countless reasons.  But . . .

When you face these difficulties

For the glory of Jesus Christ,

You can be sure you are working toward

The expansion of His Kingdom and not yours.

Working for the expansion of God’s kingdom means death – death to self and our own desires.

Instead of ordering our own lives,

We take our orders from another

. . . And His name is Jesus Christ.

He tells us to go where we often would rather not go.  He tells us to speak up when we would rather remain silent.  He tells us to plug into the lives of others when we would rather remain unplugged.

Yet . . .

It is only in this kind of death

That we actually find life!

Death to self leads

To life in our Savior,


Life in our Savior

Leads to expanding His Kingdom, not ours.

When we earnestly pray for God’s kingdom to come we are asking God to reorient our hearts away from the love of self to the love of God and others!  And it is only the grace f God that can accomplish the monumental task of removing self from the throne of life and putting Jesus there.

As a pastor, I often minister to others in difficulties of life . . . people will ask me, “How do I overcome this?” . . . “How do I get through this?”  I’ll often encourage them to unpack this portion of the Lord’s Prayer.  In this verse God helps us to look to Him, lean on Him, and learn of Him, and most importantly surrender control of our every aspect of our lives to the One who nailed them all to a cross!

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.”



Biblical Worship: Word-Infused and Spirit-Empowered

Grace For The Journey


24jan  Corporate worship is one of the fundamental purposes and actions of the church. Unfortunately, that which should unite us together in praise of the one true God often serves as a wedge to divide the people of God across fault lines of age, socioeconomic status, and personal preference.  We often make decisions concerning the various aspects of corporate worship without searching the Scriptures to determine the priorities that God places on this central action of His people.

In His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23-24, Jesus emphasizes the divine priority of worship when He utters the incredible statement, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father seeks such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

In these words,

Jesus describes authentic worship as

That which is offered to the Father

In spirit and in truth.

What is astounding in this passage is that our heavenly Father is searching for those who will offer Him this type of worship.  We must continually evaluate and adjust our worship practices in light of these Scriptural mandates.

Throughout his letters to the churches, Paul continues to unpack the meaning of Christian worship.

  • In the Epistle to the Romans, he locates the fundamental problem of humanity in its false worship whereby they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25).
  • He spends considerable time correcting faulty worship attitudes and practices throughout 1 Corinthians.
  • It is the twin Pauline passages found in Colossians and Ephesians that speak of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” that provide us the best vantage point from which to examine the Pauline understanding of biblical worship through song.

The Bible says in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching, and admonishing one another, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the lord.  And whatever you do in word or dee, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.”

This passage demonstrates that the Word of Christ

The truth of the Gospel about Christ

Should be included in the music of the church.

This means that the Gospel should permeate

The lyrical content of what we sing together as believers.

When I was in Southwestern Seminary, all ministerial students were required to take a course in the School of Music.  One of the priorities that was emphasized countless times is the pastoral responsibility we bear to place the Word of God on the lips of the people of God.

Music possesses tremendous power to guide the thoughts and affections of those who listen and, more importantly, actively participate.  Singing the truth of the Word of God drives these doctrines deep into the minds and hearts of the congregation.  It is necessary and beneficial for the people of God to express their love, devotion, and need for God, but often the music of the church can lack the revealed truth of the Bible.  Just as the Bible ministry of the church is urged to “let the Word speak,” so the music ministry must “let the Word sing!”

The Bible says in Ephesians 5:18-21, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Submitting yourselves one to another I the fear of God.”

This parallel passage in Ephesians similarly emphasizes singing to the Lord with thankfulness, but the prominence shifts from the work of Christ to that of the Spirit. Here, we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit as we address each other and sing to the Lord.  Paul concludes by instructing believers to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

These dual mandates teach us a powerful truth:

Worship is corporate in nature,

And the Spirit uses

Our times of worship

To shape us

Into the image of Christ.

Corporate worship is not just a collection of individuals who happen to be worshiping God in the same room.  When we gather for worship and lift up our voices to praise the Lord together, we are united in spirit and in faith.  In fact . . .

The corporate time of worship

Is the only times when we are all

Doing the same thing at the same time.

The Spirit of God uses these experiences to mold us into the body of Christ, where we set aside our stylistic preferences for the good of the body and the sake of the Kingdom of God.

The need of our day

Requires that the Lord’s people

Center their primary activities on the Word of God,

Commit the personal live to the Word of God,


Be equipped to communicate His Word through our life and lips.

Let the Word of God be on our lips as we sing praises to Him, and let the Spirit move among us as He becomes more and more the object of our worship!

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.”



The Lifestyle Of The Christian – Holiness

Grace For The Journey


23janHow many thousands of people have repeated a prayer and publicly announced that they were a follower of Jesus Christ only to fall away back into the world?  The answer to that question cannot be fully comprehended.  Many estimate the number of false Christians to far outnumber the true Christian population which is a staggering thought to consider.  Yet, it seems that was what Jesus communicated in Matthew 7:13-14 as he differentiated between the “many” and the “few” in relation to the false Christian and the true believer.

Throughout time, a certain category of Christianity has emerged under the name of carnal Christianity.  This category is the product of a certain belief that claims it’s possible to know Jesus as personal Savior and yield to Him as Lord while living in open sin and remaining in love with the world.  The Bible uses the word “carnal” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) but it is used in a way as to underscore the lack of the power of the Christian life living in the Corinthian believers.  They weren’t living up to the reality and character of the Faith.  Not only is this a harmful belief system, it’s simply unbiblical.  In short, there is no such thing as a carnal Christian.

The Christian’s Call to Holiness

To be a Christian is to be a child of God. What God expects from His people is a life of holiness.  The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “Be holy for I am holy” where Peter quotes from Leviticus 11:44.  God has always had one goal for His people, and it’s holiness.  In Ephesians 2:10, we see the Bible emphasizing the fact that God has before ordained that His people walk in good deeds (a life pursuit of holiness).

Far too often people miss the point of the Levitical laws.

They believe they are a system of

Positives commands and negative prohibitions

When in reality something far bigger is taking place.

God was not merely forbidding the Israelites

From enjoying a good BBQ sandwich in the dietary laws.

He was positioning his people to be

A distinct and separate people from the rest of the world.

The Levitical laws were used to separate the people.

God is holy and has called us into a life of holiness.  Paul urged the church at Ephesus to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1).  The pursuit of our lives should be on becoming conformed to the image of God rather than being marked by the world, the flesh, and the devil.  That was our former way of living and we have been called out of that lifestyle.  The Bible says in Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

Notice that Paul emphasizes that the believers in Ephesus (true about all believers regardless of geographic location) were once dead in their trespasses and sins.  This spiritual deadness caused them to walk (a statement meaning “lifestyle”) in a manner that was following the prince of the power of the air (a title for Satan).

This entire lifestyle is focused on satisfying the depraved passions of the flesh.  It should be noted that Paul begins by describing this pattern of living by the believers in the past tense.  In other words, before a believer’s conversion their lifestyle is carnal, but carnality is not the description of the believer in the present tense (after conversion).

According to Titus 1:8, the Christian is called to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”  An undisciplined life centered on satisfying depraved cravings is not the picture of a pursuit of holiness. It’s the picture of a life that’s pursuing the world.

Conversion Results in Sanctification

When God saves a person, He not only saves that person from the penalty of their sin, but He likewise removes the shackles of sin and gives the individual power to have victory over sin.  Why would anyone believe that the God who can transport people into the His presence in eternity could not remove sin from a person’s life before they cross over the precipice of eternity?

The Christian’s life will be a constant battle against the flesh (Romans. 7).  However, God calls the Christian to present himself as a living sacrifice – one that is holy and acceptable to God (Hebrews 12:1-2).  As a result of conversion, the child of God will love God more than the world or anything this world has to offer (1 John 2:15).  As John makes clear, if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Sanctification is the progressive process whereby the child of God puts off the deeds of the flesh while putting on the clothing of holiness.  Listen to how Paul describes this process in his letter to the church at Ephesus:

Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Salvation should be viewed holistically rather than merely a compartmentalized focus on the soul.  The work of salvation impacts the entire person, body, mind, and soul.  The renewal of the mind comes as a by-product of the changed heart at conversion.  New desires and affections for God emerge which change priority lists, goals, lifestyles, and nearly every other detail of the human’s existence in this present evil world.

Conversion without sanctification is not genuine salvation.  Carnality is not a description of a child of God.  When a true child of God walks off the straight and narrow path – the Spirit of God will not allow that to be an ongoing pattern.  There will be a chastening of the disobedient Christian that brings about correction.  This process could come in form of a sermon preached where the Spirit deals with the sin internally resulting in repentance.  It could be a private rebuke by a pastor out of love.  It could come in the form of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20).  For the obstinate, God has more severe methods of correction (Hebrwes 12:3-17).  God will sanctify His people and Christ will have a pure bride.

Charles Spurgeon once remarked, “Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person.  The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness.  The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.”

Now that is a lifestyle worth pursuing!

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.”


Substituting Something for the Someone

Grace For The Journey


22jan  The word “god” (with a little “g”) is defined as “anything that sits on the throne of your life and takes the place of the one true God.”

So the question facing each of us is this:

What is the most likely and dangerous “god” you face today?

From the school room, to the board room, to the locker room, to the family room, there are countless gods that compete for first place in our hearts.  And . . .

We often become quite sophisticated

in substituting something – anything –

For the one all-important Someone

. . . Whose name is Jesus Christ.

We live in a culture that is overflowing with idolatry and unabashed immorality.  Idols of every shape and size are continually calling to our hearts, trying to gain our affection.  Of course today, in our cultured “sophistication,” we do not bow down to a golden calf or a sacred wooden image; no, we find our ‘gods’ in our relationships, our hobbies, our professions . . . even our church service!

Take a moment today to examine your heart . . .

Have you allowed anything other than God

To sit upon the throne of your life?

Have you substituted something for the only One

Who deserves first place in your life and in your heart?

From a spiritual aspect, idolatry is anything that cools our desire for the Kings of kings and Lord of lords – for knowing Him, surrendering to Him, serving Him, and being His witness.

May it be said of all of us what the Lord said of Caleb, who refused to substitute something for the Someone: “Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”   (Numbers 14:24)

What does it mean to follow the Lord wholeheartedly?  What does it imply?  Let me suggest three things:

  1. Following the Lord wholeheartedly implies concentration.  To follow the Lord wholly means to concentrate all, everything, on doing this one thing.  We get a perfect illustration of this in the case of the apostle Paul, who said in Philippians 3: 13, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”  Paul was determined to do one thing, and one thing only, and that was to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.  To follow the Lord wholeheartedly implies an undivided loyalty.  Jesus reminded us of this in His searching words in Matthew 6: 24, “No one can serve two masters; for etither he wwill hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other,.  You cannot serve God and riches.”  The Psalmist sums up the whole idea of concentration and absolute allegiance to our one rightful Lord and Master when he says in Psalm 16:8, :”I have ste the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
  2. Following the Lord wholeheartedly implies completeness, as in “following the Lord completely.”  To follow Him completely means to follow Him utterly, absolutely, with heart and soul, and without any reservation.  It means to follow Him in all that we are, in all that we do, and in all that we say; and to do this wherever we are and under every circumstance – completely:

My heart to love Him,

My will to obey Him,

My mind to think of Him,

My feet to go for Him,

My voice to sing for Him,

My hands to work for Him,

My eyes to see for Him


My lips to speak for Him.

It means more than giving Him all that we have; it means yielding to Him all that we are.  It is what the Bible says in Romans 6:13, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to Gold as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness of God.”  God wants our gifts and talents, but most of all He wants – us!

  1. Following the Lord wholeheartedly implies constancy. Most of us are far too             intermittent in our following.  We follow wholeheartedly one day, and only half-     heartedly the next! –Peter’s intention recorded for us in Luke 22:33 was undoubtedly            to follow the Lord always, yet, in Luke 22: 54, we read that he completely failed to do          this.  Peter was not constant.  To follow the Lord wholly is to follow Him all the time,        and to go on following Him all the time.  It means to be a one who has but one set           purpose.  That purpose is to know and surrender daily to the Lord with such passion      and spiritual determination that we are like our Lord when He “steadfastly set His        face to go to Jerusalem.”

What is the secret of wholeheartedly following the Lord?

The real question is “Who is able to do this.”  We cannot wholly follow the Lord in our own strength.  Yet Caleb did wholly follow – so what secret did he learn?  It is an open secret, and Numbers 14:24 reveals it.  Caleb wholeheartedly followed the Lord because he had a different spirit with him.  Now, there is the key is.  Jesus lays it out in John 14:16-17, “And I pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world canot reeive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be with you.”

There is the secret:

Strength and power to follow the Lord wholly

Is not in ourselves, but it is in the Holy Spirit

With the Holy Spirit indwelling

We can then do as Caleb did

Wholly, fully, follow Him, our glorious Lord!

To follow God “wholeheartedly” does not mean perfectly. We are imperfect people and everything we do we do imperfectly, including following God.  But we follow wholeheartedly, even when we are messing it up, when our heart still beats for Jesus.

Now that’s a beat worth marching to, wouldn’t you agree?

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.”


The Lessons Of Lystra

Grace For The Journey


21janThe Bible says in Acts 20:21, “The next day Paul and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra.”

God sent the apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas to Lystra to preach the Gospel there.  In Lystra they healed a man who had been crippled from birth.  The crowds thought the gods had come down from heaven in the likeness of Paul and Barnabas, and they called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes.” Paul and Barnabas would not receive their praise and worship and quickly corrected their misunderstanding.

But while they were there, some of the Jews who rejected the Gospel of Christ arrived from Antioch and stirred up the crowds and they stoned Paul; they dragged him out of the city, and left him for dead.  Miraculously, Paul was alive and well the next day.  He and Barnabas left for Derbe to preach and teach.

Then something very strange happened . . .

They went back to Lystra.


Because God had called them back

To learn the lessons of Lystra.

I want to look at two of the lessons that God ordained for Paul and Barnabas to learn.

Lesson #1: Learn from every defeat

Rarely do we learn much when the sky is blue, the clouds are fleecy, and the sun is brightly shining.  More often than not, God’s deep teachings will only be learned on the other side of a devastating defeat, hardship, or difficulty in life.   So . . .

We must seek to find

The lesson in every defeat,

Letting God use it

To shape and mold us

Into the person

He is calling us to be.

Lesson #2: Return to some defeats

Sometimes God calls us to return to a place where we experienced defeat because He intends to turn that defeat into a divine victory.

This is not an easy thing

For the natural man to do!

When we are defeated,

We would rather learn the lesson

Or just forget about it

As quickly as possible

And get on with life.

But there are times when God has determined to take us above and beyond a lesson learned and to turn that devastating defeat into a divine deliverance.  When that happens, we are reminded of our Lord’s words: “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

That is the lesson that God gave Paul and Barnabas;

But in order to understand it,

They had to learn to think supernaturally

Rather than naturally.

Think back to the last time God determined that you should return to some particular defeat, rather than simply learn from it.

  • A heated argument with a loved one?
  • A broken relationship that needed to be made whole?
  • A stronghold that became a stranglehold on you?

When you encounter these trials,

It may very well be that God has ordained

That the lesson learned

Will not lift you high enough.

Rather, you must return

To rise above that defeat

In order to receive the victory

That is only possible with God.

Return with a humble heart.  Return with a contrite character. Return, despite the threat of a “second stoning,” knowing that God is with you every step of the way . . . just as He was with Paul and Barnabas.

The Bible says in Psalm 37:3, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.”

My prayer is that you will feed on the faithfulness of God this day as you consider the lessons of Lystra.

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.”


Walking In The Paths Of Providence

Grace For The Journey


17jan“Providence” was a term that was frequently used by America’s Founders, such as the unforgettable expression of their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence” in America’s Declaration of Independence.  Providence is rightly defined as “the foreseeing, benevolent care and wise guidance of Almighty God in the lives of His creatures.”

The Bible says in Psalm 25:4-6, “Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.  Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.”

David’s psalm (and, indeed, all of Scripture) reveals

That this life is a journey without a destination . . .

Until we get to the other side of the grave.

We are pilgrims passing through this world,

Not settlers in it.

Regardless of where our path leads,

When it is a path of Providence it will always end

In the glory of God and our good.

David deeply wanted to walk the paths of Providence, and in Psalm 25 he was crying out to God to teach him the right path to take . . . and this path will always lead in the opposite direction of the way the world is encouraging us to go.

David had no interest in looking

To the imagination of man as his guiding light.

He sought the revelation of God

(“Guide me in Your truth”)

Because he knew that God will

Always lead us in the right direction.

Let me be clear: the path of Providence may very well not be free of all obstacles, difficulties, and challenges.  Often just the opposite is true!  But . . .

When God is guiding us in His truth

And teaching us along the way,

We can be assured that

We will reach the other side better

Than we were before we got there.

God never promised us painless paths of providence; what He did promise was to get us safely to our destination.  Knowing that truth, we are strengthened and comforted to press on, regardless of the cost or circumstance.

The key for successful Christian living

Is to hold tight to the same hope David had.

He was not hoping for an easy,

Painless path of Providence

To travel through this life.

His hope was in God,

Morning, noon, and night.

Someone might well ask, “Was David’s hope always in God?”  I believe the answer is “Yes.”  In his flesh, David stumbled badly on more than one occasion; he turned away from his holy hope and trusted in things other than God.  Yet every time David did so, God would guide David back onto His path of truth and wisdom.  Deep down, David’s hope was always in God.

We see this even in one of the most awful events recorded in sacred Scripture; David committed adultery and then did murder to cover it up.  Yet, the Lord’s great mercy and love still reached out and met David in his place of deepest need.  To be sure, there would be great consequences for David’s sin, and it took a visit from the prophet Nathan to make that clear to the broken king.  But through it all, God grew David up to become a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22).  He continued to set David’s feet upon the paths of Providence all the way into glory.

So . . . what paths of Providence have you been walking lately?

Is God leading you . . .

Or . . .

Are you trying to lead God?

The answer to these questions will make all the difference in how your life works out.

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.”



The Bible – Full Of Facts Or Fables?

Grace For The Journey


2018BlogTheme16jan  One of the most common objections I hear from skeptics regarding the truth claims of Christianity is, “The stories in the Bible are no different from Aesop’s Fables.”  The skeptic insists that the stories in the Bible developed over time, based on myths which were passed along orally over the years until the New Testament was completed.  They believe the stories of Jesus and His miraculous healings’ simply evolved over time into what we read today.

How would you respond to a claim like that? As usual, the Bible is not silent on this subject.  The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:16, “We did not follow cleverly devised fables when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

Even secular skeptical historians acknowledge that the Christian church began the year Jesus was crucified (AD 30) in Jerusalem, because the apostles (who were eyewitnesses) were preaching both the crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This message did not develop over time.

This was not a “legend” that grew

And became more fantastic

As the years marched by.

Peter states that he and the other apostles saw both the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These were not fables that the apostles were repeating; they were recording factual accounts of actual events that occurred right in front of their own eyes.

Here is how John explained it: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” 1 John 1:1, 3.

One of the most compelling proofs of the truth of the New Testament

Is the fact that all of the disciples refused

To change their stories about the risen Savior.

Their unwavering witness caused them to endure great persecution and suffering.  While historians debate how many of the original apostles were executed for their faith, we can be certain that Peter, Paul, and James, the brother of Jesus, died as martyrs.  Church tradition tells us that of the 11 original apostles (Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, is not counted among that group), all but John died for their faith.  If these men knew that what they were preaching and teaching was a fabrication or a lie, would not at least some of them recanted their “story” in order to save their own skin?  Yet not one of them did.  Not one.

Perhaps you are familiar with the Prison Fellowship ministry and its wonderful “Angel Tree” outreach to the children of incarcerated prisoners.  What you may not be aware of is that Charles (“Chuck”) Colson, Prison Fellowship’s founder, came to faith in Christ at age 42.  Prior to his conversion, Chuck was known as President Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” who once famously boasted that he would “run over my own grandmother” to help the president.  Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice as part of the infamous Watergate scandal and served 7 months in federal prison.  It was during this time that Chuck Colson placed his trust in Jesus Christ.  The old Colson died; he was Born Again (the title of his most famous book).  Chuck Colson spoke of how the Resurrection profoundly affected his thinking:
   “I know the Resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because     

       twelve men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed

       that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned

       and put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate

       embroiled twelve of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a

       lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me twelve apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?

       Absolutely impossible.”

Christianity is not a myth, legend, or fable.

It is a fact as certain as any fact in history!

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.”