Being Able To See Jesus … Helping Others To See Him

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15May  Have you heard of the “Be My Eyes” app?  It’s a non-profit app for your phone that allows you to help others see.  Imagine a blind person needing help locating something in his home and you’ll understand the value of this app.  Using the phone’s camera, a sight-impaired person can point the phone at what he or she cannot see as a volunteer provides guidance through video chat.  Designed by a visually impaired man in Denmark, this free application has been used countless times in the last several years. Here’s how one person describes the way she “lent her eyes” to help another see: “The other day, I connected with a young man who wanted to know the expiration date of the milk in his refrigerator.  He positioned his phone’s camera to the top shelf.  Looking at the image of the milk carton on my phone, I said, ‘I wouldn’t drink that if I were you.’  He laughed, thanked me and that was the end of our call.”  Isn’t that fantastic?!  You may wish to download the app if you’d like to help others with similar tasks.

Jesus Christ helps us see. And He corrects both physical and spiritual vision.  From Mark 10:46-52, we learn several truths about the man known historically as “Blind Bartimaeus.”

Consider His Condition.

Verse 46 tells us, “Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.”  Bartimaeus’ condition is clear: he is blind and he is poor.  Recalling my post from yesterday, Bartimaeus would be a candidate to an outcast.  Like Matthew the tax collector, Bartimaeus is a candidate for the island of misfits.  This marginalized beggar calls upon Jesus, the friend of sinners.

Verse 47 says, ”And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”  Bartimaeus yearns to see!  He cries out loudly to Jesus, so loud we are told in verses48-49 that many warned him to lower his voice, “Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So, Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

Note the powerful truth in this passage . . .

Jesus makes time

For those who cry out.

He is there for those

Who know they need help.

Bartimaeus throws aside his garment and runs to Jesus.

Verse 51 tells us what happened, “So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What do you Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’”  This is a cry for physical healing.  It was Bartimaeus’ physical eyesight that needed correction.  There was nothing wrong with his spiritual eyesight.

Consider His Confession. 

Especially significant is the confession embedded in Bartimaeus’ plea for physical healing: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Bartimaeus does not merely

Address Jesus as rabbi or rabboni,

Both respectful if not reverential titles.

He addresses him as “Jesus, Son of David.”  

Put another way: “Jesus, the promised Messiah,”

Or

“Jesus, the Promised One who would come

From the lineage of King David.”

Bartimaeus could just as easily have said,

“Jesus, my Savior and Lord.”

Though blind physically, he sees well spiritually.

Verse 52 sums up what happened next, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’  Immediately he received his sight and followed and followed Jesus on the road.”  Bartimaeus was healed!  Now Bartimaeus could see both physically and spiritually.

3) Considered His Consecration.

The chapter ends with Bartimaeus’ indicating full surrender of his life to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The last few words of verse 52, the last few words of the chapter read, “And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”

After his healing . . .

Bartimaeus follows Jesus

As one he desired,

Is devoted to,

And

Dedicated to following.

What a wonderful picture

Of true discipleship,

True following of the Lord Jesus!

I see a few points of application that surface from our study of Bartimaeus and his encounter with Christ.

* You Can be Blind, but See.

Bartimaeus was blind physically, but he could see spiritually.  He was blind of body, but not of soul.  Think about that for a moment.

  • He had not seen or witnessed any of the Lord’s miracles.
  • He had never once seen the Lord touch lepers and heal them.
  • He had never seen Jesus heal or cure any person of any illness.
  • He had not seen the Lord Jesus raise the dead by merely speaking a word.

He had not seen any of this – yet he believed.  Many people demand some great sign or supernatural working of God before believing in Christ.

Christians live and walk by faith, not by sight.  It’s not a blind faith.  It is a faith based upon fact; the facts of the Gospel.  We “see,” through the eyes of faith – believing and accepting what Jesus has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection.

Several years ago I read about a strange fish of a family called the Anableps.  It’s a strange species of fish found in Central America and parts of South America.  It’s a kind of fish that has two sets of eyes.  It’s actually one set, but its eyes divide the water line, enabling the fish to see two ways: above water and under water.  A Christian is someone who is also capable of seeing two ways, both physically and spiritually.

* You can See, but be Blind.

Bartimaeus was able to see spiritually, but before Jesus healed him, he was unable to see physically.  On the other hand, there are many people who can see physically, but are blind spiritually.

This principle is similar

To yesterday’s post

About being sick,

But

Thinking you’re well.

Remember what Jesus said to Matthew the Tax Collector?  He said, “I did not come for those who are sick and think they are well; I have come for those who want to be well because they know they are sick.”  Similarly, a person may have the ability to see, but really be blind.  Maybe you’ve heard the old aphorism:

“There is no one so blind

As one who refuses to see!”

Remember Bartimaeus’ condition?  Blind, poor, outcast.  What was true of Bartimaeus’ physical condition is true of every man’s spiritual condition – every man, every woman, every young person. We are all blind, poor, and outcast because of our sin.

Do you believe this?  You must believe you are sick before you can be made well.  You must acknowledge your spiritual blindness, before you can see.  Sometimes we don’t see the truth because we don’t want to see the truth.  It’s like avoiding a full-length mirror because we don’t like seeing a body in need of diet and exercise!  We may shield our eyes from things we don’t like to see, whether those things are physical or spiritual.

Ask yourself: “Is the reason I cannot see spiritually because – deep down – I don’t like what I see?  I don’t want to believe the Gospel?  I don’t want to believe the Bible?  I don’t want to surrender my life to God?”

* If You Can See, You Must Help Others See.

Jesus was always willing to be interrupted.  Are you willing to be interrupted by the spiritually blind?  Do you take time to help them see?  It’s like the “Be My Eyes” app, but used spiritually.  Who will you meet today who needs your help spiritually?  How can you lend them your spiritual eyes in the hopes that they too may be able to see the truth of the gospel?

Amazing Grace
How Sweet the Sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
was blind but now I see

This is God’s 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.”

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Jesus Loves Misfits

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

14May  Have you seen that old Christmas special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?”  I’m talking about the classic, stop motion animated TV special from the 1960s narrated by Burl Ives!  There’s a scene in the movie with a bunch of toys located on “The Island of Misfit Toys.”  It is an island dedicated to the imperfect and flawed toys cast aside because they “didn’t fit” with the right and proper toys.   There is a spotted elephant, a Choo-Choo train with square wheels, a boat that doesn’t stay afloat, and my personal favorite: not a Jack-in-the-Box, but a “Charlie-in-the-Box.”  Misfits.  Churches should hang a sign above their church doors that reads: “All misfits welcome here!”  What are Christians if not those who are imperfect, flawed, and messed-up by sin?

One such “misfit” 2,000 years ago was a tax collector named Matthew, a social outcast who had a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ.  The account is recorded in Matthew 9:9-13.  We learn several important truths that help us see and relate to those who are in need of meeting Jesus.

The first encouraging truth is . . .

If We Admit We Are Sick Then We Can Become Well.

Verse 9 tells us, “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office.  And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’  So he arose and followed Him.”

Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were in a position to abuse their power.  Sitting in his tax collector’s booth, Matthew himself set the value of items people gave for their taxes.  He alone determined the value and worth of each gift given, each toll paid, and that allowed him to inflate the price, skim the profits, and turn the balance over to the Roman authorities.

With remarkable brevity, we are told that Jesus comes by and says, “Follow Me” and Matthew gets up and follows Him.  Just like that!  Later they are eating supper together in Matthew’s house where verse 10 says, “Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.”

It’s interesting how many times we read of the Pharisees and others pointing an accusatory finger at Jesus, complaining about His eating with sinners, being with sinners, hanging out with people society frowns upon, social misfits and outcasts, people who have committed “horrible sins.”

Christians are wise to ask themselves

Whether they identify more

With the outcasts or the Pharisees.

RC Sproul once said, “We are all recovering Pharisees” and that we need to “get over our tendency to frown only upon certain sins and certain sinners.”

Implicit here is the fact that these other folks had been invited.  Matthew had invited his tax collector buddies and other so-called “sinners” to come see Jesus.  Today he would have posted an event on his Facebook page and invited everyone, or he would have group-texted his friends: “Come, Meet & Dine with Jesus.”

Having a meal with someone in the ancient near east was a relational and intimate event.  It’s not like our day when so many of us find ourselves as a family with pizza in front of the TV watching a favorite series on Netflix or at a restaurant with everyone not engaged in conversation but in connecting with friends or checking texts.  Eating supper with someone in Jesus’ day was an opportunity to experience the soul of another person by spending a long time with that person in intimate, personal, and relational conversation.

Verse 11 says, “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’”  The Pharisees are incensed.  They are shocked and enraged at the behavior of Jesus, sitting down with these “tax collectors and sinners!”  The Pharisees are beside themselves about Jesus’ sitting down with these unclean, social outcasts.  The strict, legalistic behavior of the Pharisees had become merely a rigid, religious system of rule-keeping – totally empty of love and mercy.  There was no love among the Pharisees, just laws.  Laws without love.

Verse 12 tells us, “When Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.’”  In essence, Jesus says, “Look, you Pharisees seem to feel you have it all together.  You’re feeling well.  But I didn’t come for those who think they are feeling well.  I have come for those who know they are not feeling well!  I have come for those who know they are sick.  I am the Good Doctor who has come to heal the spiritually sick.”  The Pharisees thought they were “well” spiritually.  They proudly assumed that their strict, religious behavior made them acceptable to God.  They sought God’s approval of their performance.  As such they were not healthy, but actually sick.  And their main sickness was that of the Tin Man’s in “The Wizard of Oz” – They had no heart.

Only those who realize

Their need for Jesus,

Will come to Jesus.

Jesus declares in verse 13, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  Some of the modern translations omit the phrase, “to repentance,” but repentance is implied nonetheless.  Jesus ends the conversation with a stinging rebuke: “I did not come to call the righteous [self-righteous], but sinners to repentance.”  I think the New Living Translation is best at capturing the sense of Jesus’ statement in verse 13.  The NLT has Jesus saying, “For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

In other words,

“The doctor is in

For those who have sinned.”

Have you ever known someone who refused to acknowledge physical sickness?  They didn’t want to admit they had a particular condition or diagnosis, so they refused to take their medicine?  You can think you are well when you’re actually sick.  The same can be true in the spiritual realm.  If you don’t admit you are sick, you won’t take your medicine.   You won’t think you need it.

The preaching and teaching of Scripture

Is medicine to the soul.

The loving correction of the Bible

In our lives is often like

Being stuck with a needle.

It hurts at first, but we need it.

Jesus’ ministry was directed at those who were honest with themselves, those who were willing to acknowledge their sinfulness.

They had to be

Receptive to the truth

In order to

Receive the truth.

Here the second encouraging truth . . .

No matter how sick we are, we can still be made well!  

Unlike physical sicknesses that cannot be cured [COVID-19 presently] or unlike illnesses that do not respond well to conventional treatment – all spiritual sicknesses can be cured by the medicine of the gospel.

No matter how sick you are –

Whether you are

A religious person, an alcoholic,

A drug abuser, a prostitute,

A criminal, no matter your “social disorder”

Of being an outcast or a misfit –

No matter the depth of your spiritual sickness,

The Good Physician can make you well.

He has come for that very purpose.

The medicine of the gospel heals.  And when we continue to “take our medicine,” (letting the power of the Gospel do its work in our lives) we grow stronger spiritually.  This means we continue to find satisfaction in Christ alone and we are moment-by-moment, day-by-day, grateful for the gospel – gratefully knowing that God always and forever regards us as holy in His sight because we are covered in Christ’s righteousness.  We are freed from fear of death and guilt in life.

He is a final encouraging truth from our passage . . .

If we are well then we will want to help those who are sick.

God works through His children (those He has made well) to reach out and help others who are sick.  God works through every Christian, using his or her unique backgrounds and experiences, to bring the medicine of the gospel to others.

Jesus called Matthew and then used all of Matthew’s experiences as a tax-collector – a guy who kept records and wrote down facts – the Lord used him as an apostle to keep records of history and write down those facts in what would eventually become the very book in which this narrative is recorded: The Gospel of Matthew.

God can take all of our experiences

And use them for His greater glory.

In fact, God delights in working

Through outcasts and misfits!

As the friend of sinners, Jesus Himself became the “ultimate outcast” for us.  As Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier in Isaiah 53:4-6, “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus is the ultimate outcast:

He was cast out in separation from the Father for us
He was cast out of the temple for us
He was cast out of the city for us
He was cast out and crucified upon a cross for us

Jesus takes all of our “outcasted-ness” upon Himself in order to make us well.  He lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, and rose miraculously from the grave that all who are “outcasts” may be “brought in” by faith and have peace with God.

This is God’s 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.”

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Jesus Turns Crisis Into Calm

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

13May  What do Christians mean when they talk about faith?  The word is often used simply to describe belief in general.   Someone says he has “faith” that everything is going to be alright.  He doesn’t say what substantiates his faith or upon what his faith is grounded. He just says, “Well, I have faith,” as though faith – in and of itself – were all that mattered.

Many Bible teachers have helped us understand biblical faith by asking us to imagine a man approaching a frozen pond.  The man is going to walk across the ice.  Picture a man weighing 250 pounds and he has faith that this pond of ice – just a half-inch thick – will support his 250 pounds as he walks across it.  Surprised, you say to him, “You’re going to walk across that ice?  You realize it is only a half-inch thick?!”  The man says, “Oh, yes!  I have great faith, lots of faith, that the ice will support my weight.”  You respond, “Well, good luck with that,” and the 250 pound man immediately falls through the ice.

Contrast that scenario with another man weighing the same 250 pounds about to cross a frozen pond with ice 18 inches thick.  This man approaches the ice with faith as well, but his faith is a tiny faith; about the size of a mustard seed.  But . . .

All is well because it is not

The size of his faith

That is important,

But

The thickness of the ice.

That man can place his faith

On the sure and stable

Weightiness of the ice.

When we talk of faith, it is not simply faith, in and of itself, a merely subjective faith with no substance or foundation.

The Christian faith is

Primarily an objective faith,

A faith that rests upon

The stability of an actual object,

Namely the person of Jesus Christ

As revealed in the Gospels.

In John 4:46-54, we read about a man who moves from a rather shaky faith to a firm faith.  He moves from crisis to calm as he rests upon the weightiness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon said this passage in John 4 demonstrates “the rise and progress of faith in the soul.”  And I would agree with that statement.  We see both . . .

The greatness of Jesus Christ

And the

Progression of one man’s faith in Him.

As we look at the above passage, we learn about:

1) Crisis Faith.

A crisis faith is the kind of faith we have when something happens suddenly to us.  It hits us, jars us, and it shakes us up.  A life storm of some kind throws us into the critical tailspin of crisis.

The Bible says in verse 46 that there is a man who has a son who is sick.  This is his crisis.  The man is described as, “a certain nobleman.”  Other translations have, “royal official,” or something similar.  The nobleman travels from Capernaum to Cana in order to see Jesus.  He’s traveling west some 16 miles and verse 47 says, “he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.”

The verb tense indicates that this man’s request was a repeated request, something he asked more than once, something like, “Jesus, please come down to Capernaum, my son is at the point of death, please, please come down!”  “The point of death” is an interesting phrase.  We all will die.  We all will come to the point of death.  As each day passes, we are closer to that point.  The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.”

Young and old.  It is not necessarily so that we all will reach a ripe old age of 90 or 100 and then die. The psalmist writes in Psalm 90:10, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years,” but even that is a general statement.  We may reach 70, or 80, or older, but there is no guarantee.  Or we may die young.  Remember that the first grave dug in the Bible was not dug for an older mother, or father, but for a son (Genesis4:8).

More important than anything else in life

Is to be prepared for death.

The nobleman has a crisis.  His son is sick.  Here is a reminder that even noblemen have troubles in this life.  Riches and royalty are no safeguards, no guarantees that life will be free from the world’s problems.  You may be rich, you may be poor, but you live in a world that is fallen.  So long as you have people in your life and family in your house, you will have problems similar to the Nobleman’s.

Verse 48 tells us, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.’”  Not really what we’re expecting Jesus to say here.  It’s actually a rebuke: “Unless you people (the pronoun is plural; Jesus is speaking both to the nobleman as well as to everyone else) see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”  Jesus is mildly reprimanding those who . . .

See Him as merely a miracle worker;

Fascinated with signs rather

Than the One to Whom

The signs pointed.

Signs are pointers to something else.  Jesus performed many signs and wonders, but no sign was ever meant to be an end in and of itself.  Signs were pointers to the greater thing behind the sign.  The sign was meant to point to Jesus so people would love Jesus and trust in Jesus, rather than loving the miracles and wonders.

Verse 49 says, “The nobleman said to Him, Sir, come down before my child dies!’”  This is a crisis faith, but at least it is faith.  The nobleman does not deny that he sees Jesus as a worker of miracles.  He doesn’t argue the point.  He simply restates his plea: “Come down before my child dies.”

There is humility here. He does not say something like, “But of course I am a nobleman,” or, “I come as the king’s official,” or, “I deserve this!” 

When we come to Christ,

We come clinging to Him only,

Bringing no merit of our own.

Rich or poor, educated or not,

We come empty-handed

When we come to Christ.

2) Confident Faith.

Verses 50 says, “Jesus said to him, .Go your way; your son lives.’  So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.”  He “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.”  Like a man stepping out onto the frozen pond, the nobleman begins walking, trusting, depending, believing the word that Jesus spoke to him.  “He went his way.”  This is confident faith.  By going his way . . .

The man now demonstrates

That he is not at all like

Those who needed to

See signs and wonders

First before believing.

He doesn’t need

To see the fireworks

Of miracles and wonders.

He doesn’t need to see the sign,

He believes the One

To whom the sign points,

He believes in Jesus,

Believing the word

That Jesus spoke to him.

Everyone has faith in something or someone.  A skeptic may say your Christianity is just a crutch for you, something you’re leaning on the way a man with a broken leg leans upon a crutch.  And there is truth in that statement.  We are broken and we are leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus.  We do well to ask our skeptic friend, “What are you leaning on?”  Are you leaning on a god of your own imagination?  Leaning on your own fallen reasoning?  Leaning on something else?”  We’re all leaning upon something or someone.

The Bible tells us “The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.”  We need to do the same; we need to take Jesus at His word and go our way.

3) Confirmed Faith.

Verse 51 states, “And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”  Imagine the excitement of these servants!  They cannot wait for the nobleman to arrive home in Capernaum.  They get on the road to meet him and give him the news, “Your son lives.”  Now watch this as the nobleman’s faith, his confident faith in the word of Jesus, is confirmed.  Look at verses 52-53, “Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better.  And they said to him, ‘Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.’  So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives.’ And he himself believed, and his whole household.”  The man asked the servants when his son began getting better and they answered, “Yesterday at the seventh hour.”  By Jewish reckoning of time, the seventh hour is 1;00 P.M. (the Jewish day began at 6AM, so counting to the seventh hour would make it 1:00 P.M.).  So the man thinks to himself, “Yesterday at the seventh hour – 1:00 P.M. – yeah, that’s precisely the time I was standing there talking to Jesus and He said to me, “Go your way; your Son lives.”  Seventh hour.  Right on the dot!

I am struck also by the growing calm of this man after his encounter with Christ.  At first, he is running desperately to Jesus.  Now, he is walking calmly home.  Look at the map in the back of your Bible or search Google Maps and you will see the distance from Cana to Capernaum is just 16 miles.  If the man were consumed with worry for his son, he would have rushed home at the very hour he left Jesus and probably would have arrived home late that evening, but that’s not what we read.

We read that when the servants meet up with the nobleman they tell him that his son began to get well “yesterday at the seventh hour.”  Yesterday.  Either the nobleman is a very slow walker or, more likely, the nobleman spent the night somewhere.  He checked into the local Bed & Breakfast and went soundly to sleep, believing the word that Jesus spoke to him.

Confident, confirmed faith turns one from crisis to calm.  The hymn-writer knew as much:

Come, every soul by sin oppressed,
There’s mercy with the Lord;
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His Word.

4) Contagious Faith.

Verse 53 says, “… And he himself believed, and his whole household.” 

When a dad encounters Christ

And believes in Jesus,

It changes the whole family.

As the spiritual leader of his home, this nobleman believed Jesus and God graced the entire family with saving faith in Christ!

The Christian faith is a contagious faith.

If our faith is real,

Others become interested

In what we have.

If our faith is genuine,

It has an impact upon others.

It doesn’t always mean that everyone else will get saved and follow Christ as we have, but if our faith is authentic, there is a quality about it that inspires faith in others.

Think about this: What if the nobleman’s son had not gotten sick?  Where would the nobleman be?  Wouldn’t he just be going about his business as a nobleman, working in the king’s court, a lost man?  A wealthy man, a royal man, but a lost man?

Charles Spurgeon says, “Had he been without trial, he might have lived forgetful of his God and Savior; but sorrow came to his house, and it was God’s angel in disguise.”

Sorrows are often a grace of God.

God often uses trials

To drive us to Himself.

C.S. Lewis said God speaks to us in our health but, “shouts to us in our pain.”  It was a crisis in this man’s life (the sickness of his son) that led him to a direct encounter with Christ, and his encounter with Christ changed everything.

But what if Jesus had not healed the nobleman’s son?  What if the boy died?  To be sure, the nobleman would have grieved as much as you or I would grieve.  Perhaps some of you have experienced similar grief.  Death brings pain to loved ones and friends.  And especially when it seems sudden and soon, it shakes us, hurts us, and unsettles us.

But even then . . .

We must do as the nobleman did:

We must go to Jesus.

We must take our crisis

To the One who always does right.

We must take our crisis

To the Good Shepherd

Who has information we don’t have;

The One who is fulfilling

A perfect plan for our good,

For the good of others,

And for the glory of God.

We must go to the One

Who turns crisis into calm.

Finding ourselves in a crisis from time to time is the byproduct of living in a fallen, sinful world.

We’re all in a storm,

Or we’ve just come

Through a storm,

Or

We’re getting ready to

Head back into a storm.

That’s just the way it is.

But the Christian can take his concerns to Jesus and leave them with Him.  And when we do that rightly, we have calm.  The nobleman took Jesus at His word.  He believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.  He did not fret about anxiously.  He simply trusted.

It is not always God’s will to heal the sickness.  The nobleman’s son got well, but eventually he got sick again and died.  Someone has said, “True faith is accepting whatever God gives us.”  I agree.  But we must believe in the character and integrity of God, that He is the God who always does right, every time without exception.

Our job is to take our concerns to Him in prayer and when we do that rightly, no matter how He answers our prayers, He will grant us peace.  It is the promise of Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

This is God’s 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.”

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Understanding What Becoming A Christian Means

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme 

12May  The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”

This verse most succinctly captures the reason the eternal Son of God took on flesh, lived among us for some thirty-three years, died on the cross, and rose from the grave: “to save sinners.”

But what does it mean

Tto be a sinner?

Who is a sinner?

In short, a sinner is someone who breaks God’s laws; a lawbreaker.  A sinner is someone who knows what he ought to do, but he doesn’t do it (James 4:17).

Paul writes in Romans 3:23: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Every single person on the planet is a sinner.  We have all failed to do consistently and perfectly what the Bible teaches.

If we ever expect to have a relationship with the One True and Living God, then we have to be consistently sinless and perfect all the time.  But we aren’t.  Only God is perfect.  He is perfectly holy, perfectly loving, and perfectly just.

We, on the other hand, are imperfect.  We are unholy.  We often act very unjustly.  In a word: we are sinners.

And the Bible teaches that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  Put another way: “What we get for being sinners is death;” physical death and spiritual death.

But . . .

Sin is a condition

Before it is an action.

We are born sinners.  In Ephesians 2:1, the Bible defines us in our natural state as “dead in trespasses and sins.”  

We are natural born sinners.  So . . .

It’s not that we first sin

And

Then become sinners,

But rather

That we sin because

We are sinners.

And if nothing changes we remain that way for eternity, separated from God forever in a horrible place called hell, separated because of our sin, unable to stand in God’s presence because He is perfect and we are not.

This is what we often call the “bad news” we must first understand before we can appreciate the “good news” (the meaning of the word gospel).

We cannot fully appreciate

What it means to be forgiven

Until we know that

We need forgiveness.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

In order for God to remain just in all His ways, He has to punish our wrongdoing.  He can’t just forgive our evil acts without some kind of punishment.  That would be like an earthly judge simply letting everybody get away with every crime.  If you’ve ever been a victim of a crime and a judge did that, you’d cry, “That’s unjust!”  And rightly so because the acts of lawbreakers should be punished.  Well . . .

We have sinned against our holy God,

We have broken His laws,

And

Our sins must be punished.

Here’s what makes Christianity so different from every major religion.  Every other religion is about earning God’s approval: “Do these things and God will accept you.  Do this.  Do that, and you’ll earn a way to God.”  It’s like climbing a ladder of deeds: “Do this, then this, and this, and you’ll finally reach God.”  But it would require an infinite number of rungs or steps to appease an infinite God!

Christianity is not

Defined as “Do.”

Christianity is “Done.”

In other words, Christianity is not about our climbing up a ladder of good deeds to reach God.  Christianity is about God’s having coming down to us.  The eternal Son of God, second Person of the Trinity, comes down to us as in the great Christmas lyric: “Word of the Father now in flesh appearing.”  

God Himself dwelt among us for thirty-three years.  He lived a perfect life for us.  We can’t do that, but He can, and He did.  He lived without breaking a single law.  He can do that because He’s God!  Therefore, He is also able to die as a perfect substitute for our sin, taking our punishment upon Himself.  In this way God remains just and justice is served.  He has punished sin by punishing our sin in His Son Jesus Christ.

And on the third day after His death, Christ rises from the grave, demonstrating His power over sin, death, hell, and the grave.  He is alive!  And if we believe He is the rightful Savior and King of our lives, we can be saved from the penalty of our sin and have eternal life in Him.

Indeed, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sin is imputed – or charged – to Christ and Christ’s perfect record of obedience is credited to us (2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Have you received Christ as Lord and Savior?  If not, will you now receive Him, trusting Him alone for forgiveness of sin?  The Bible says He is the only way we can be forgiven of sin and enter into a saving relationship with God.

  • Admit your need – Admit you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. 
  • Turn from trusting in anything or anyone else and trust what Jesus Christ has done for you. 
  • Believe that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for you, died for your sins on the cross, rose from the grave, and is your only way to acceptance with God.

If you are ready to take this step, talk to God in prayer.  Share with Him your understanding of what He has done for you and how you are willing to turn from your sin in repentance and trust Him as your Savior and Lord.  The following prayer may be a helpful guide as you talk to God and share the desire of your heart:

“Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for making it possible for me to have peace with God! I believe that when You died You were paying the penalty for my sins. I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through You I understand I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank You for paying my debt, bearing my punishment, and offering forgiveness. I turn from my sin and receive You as Savior. Thank you for the gift of eternal life!”

If you prayed that prayer, I would be happy to hear from you and provide you some Bible tools to help you better understand your decision and grow in your faith.  To those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, I pray that the truths we learned today will challenge and encourage us to share them with others so that can understand what becoming a Christian means.

This is God’s 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.”

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Longing For Meaning

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10May  “Better Call Saul” is a modern crime drama series that portrays the life of a shady attorney named Saul Goodman.  Created by Vince Gilligan, the series is a spin-off of “Breaking Bad” and recounts Goodman’s earlier years practicing law.  Saul Goodman is the typical American “ambulance chaser” type of lawyer.  His tactics are sneaky, his ethics are shaky, and he’s not liked at all by the well-to-do, more respected lawyers and professionals.  At the same time, however, there’s something about Saul Goodman that’s kind of endearing.  He’s got a great sense of humor and a dogged perseverance that keeps him going in spite of repeated setbacks and disappointments.  There’s something about his character that’s even lovable at times and you find yourself pulling for him (Isn’t that crazy how good writers make you do that?  Suddenly you’re pulling for the con-man!).

I believe Saul Goodman is the modern-day story of Zacchaeus.  We read about Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10..

Like Goodman, Zacchaeus was rather unscrupulous in his profession.  We’re told in the Bible that Zacchaeus was a tax collector and we have to remember what that meant in New Testament times.  Briefly, tax collectors were more like independent businessmen who gained wealth by overcharging others.  Add to this the fact that Zacchaeus was a Jew working on the wrong side; working against his Jewish brethren and for the Roman Gentiles, and you’ll understand why he was no doubt despised by other Jews.

Frederick Buechner describes Zacchaeus memorably as “a sawed-off little social disaster with a big bank account and a crooked job.”  Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector, but “a Chief Tax Collector,” a title used only here in the New Testament.  Whatever else being a chief tax collector may have meant, it certainly carried huge financial rewards (Luke 19:2).

Zacchaeus was rich largely because

He had taken from others.

But while Zacchaeus was

Rich in earthly terms,

There was a great void

In his spiritual bank account.

Zacchaeus is a picture of the human soul’s longing for meaning.  I believe this his explains the tree climbing incident.  It would not be unusual for a child to climb a tree, but for a full-grown man to scurry up a sycamore tree suggests a longing that money could not buy.

I feel sure that Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus.  How could he not have heard?  It had not been that long ago just over in Bethany (less than 15 miles away) that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11).  Everyone had heard of that!  Given all the other healings of people who had been sick or blind, it’s no wonder Luke tells us that Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus “because of the crowd.”  There was a huge crowd lining the streets of Jericho, just waiting to catch a glimpse of the miracle worker from Nazareth.

The Bible tells us that Zacchaeus “ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him,” because Jesus was going to be passing through in that direction.

Here is a picture

Of intense longing and desire

 – If not desperation –

To see Jesus Christ.

It’s not just that Zacchaeus was short and climbed the tree for a better view of a popular figure passing through town, but that an inner desire for meaning was driving him to capture a sight of Jesus Christ.

The text in verse 3 literally reads that Zacchaeus “was seeking to see Jesus, who he is…”  The phrase suggests more than a casual look.  It suggests more than Zacchaeus’ merely being able later to tell others he had seen Jesus in Jericho; the way we might say we had seen a famous celebrity or politician from a distance.

Rather . . .

The phrase suggests

The idea that Zacchaeus

Really wanted to know

More about Jesus Himself.

To see what sort

Of person Jesus was.

Zacchaeus was wanting

To see Jesus not for

What He could do,

But for Who He was.

What does this say about the inability of wealth, treasures, and toys to satisfy the soul’s greatest yearnings and longings?

Zacchaeus is searching.  If the story took place today I can see him running down the busy city street, this short guy elbowing his way through the crowd of people, before grabbing hold of a low-lying branch and pulling himself upwards, scuffing up his Italian shoes, his Tommy Hilfiger necktie catching on a twig, the crystal of his fine Swiss watch, a gold encased Jaeger-LeCoultre, smudged by dirt and grime in an effort to hoist himself to a vantage point that he may see . . .

The One who,

Though He was rich,

Had become poor,

That Zacchaeus through

His actual poverty

Might become truly rich

(2 Corinthians 8:9).

The bottom line is this . . .

Earthly riches, earthly pleasures,

The so-called “finer things of life”

Mean very little to us

When we come to realize

That apart from Christ

We are lost and undone,

Our sins unforgiven,

Our spiritual life – dead.

Zacchaeus needed an encounter with Christ.  He ran ahead and climbed up into that sycamore tree to see Him, to see Jesus for who He was.

Jesus looks up into the tree and calls Zacchaeus by name.  Jesus knew him!  Just like Jesus knows your name.  He knows you and he knows what you are thinking.  He knows what’s in your heart.  He knows what are your greatest wants and desire.

And Zacchaeus received Christ joyfully (Luke 19:6).  Not everyone thought Zacchaeus should be so joyful.  After all, Zacchaeus was a swindler, a deceitfully devious, and corrupt criminal.  Some religious people would say Zacchaeus had no business being anywhere near Jesus.  That’s the way the religious scribes and Pharisees felt.  Rather than celebrating Zacchaeus’ encounter with Christ, Luke tells us “they all complained” and spoke disparagingly about Christ’s fraternizing with the tax collector saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’”  

Well . . .

What were they?!

Were the religious folks

Not sinners, too?

Of course they were.

They were sick,

Yet unaware of

Their need for a doctor

(Luke 5:30-32).

Zacchaeus’ heart has changed.  He was willing to make restitution four times what he had taken from others.  And he was willing to give away half of his belongings.  Imagine  a rich guy giving away his wardrobe of Armani suits, his Rolex watches, so much stuff – here is a man who had truly encountered Christ!

He was willing to give away

Earthly riches because

He had discovered

The inestimable wealth

Of spiritual riches.

Jesus changes everything.  When we truly encounter Christ our whole world changes. We have new desires and new ways of seeing things.

More than any other Gospel writer, Luke stresses the truth that Jesus came to save all people without distinction and had a special love for the outcasts, the social rejects, the hated, the “Saul Goodmans” of the world.  Jesus loves tax collectors, thieves, liars, adulterers, swindlers, murderers, and prostitutes.  So . . .

He loves you

And

He can save you, too.

There are no “incurable” cases.

The Good Physician can heal your soul.

The vilest offender
Who truly believes
That moment from Jesus 
A pardon receives.

May we never fall into the sinful, sanctimonious, and self-righteous ways of the “religious people” in Luke’s Gospel.  Let’s not act like the scribes and Pharisees, looking down our noses upon other “sinners.”  Jesus said He came for those who know they need a doctor.  Churches are to be places that provide spiritual triage and care for all who know they are sick.

The only difference between a saved outcast

And an unsaved outcast is Jesus Christ.

Even as Christians we are forever in need of Christ.

While sin no longer reigns in our lives, it remains in our lives.

Humility causes us to take sin seriously and to grow in our capacity to overcome sin, continually reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:11).

I recall something a Christian speaker said sometime back.  It’s this simple statement:

“You wouldn’t be so shocked by your own sin

If you didn’t have such a high opinion of yourself.”

Christians are still outcasts, but not without hope.  We are a work in progress, growing in increasing measures and degrees of holiness.

To quote the children’s hymn:

He’s still working on me
to make me what I ought to be
How loving and patient He must be
He’s still working on me.

This is God’s 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.”

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God Loves You With An Everlasting Love … Can You Feel It?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

8May  Imagine a guy falling head over heels for a girl.  He is completely smitten with love for her.  Finally, the day comes when he decides to ask her hand in marriage.  He buys an expensive engagement ring and plans the romantic dinner.  The big night arrives and he gets down on one knee.  With all his happiness hanging in the balance, he awaits her answer as he says, “I LOVE you, will you marry me?!”  She replies, “Yes” … “Maybe.” He’s like, “What do you mean, maybe?!  Don’t you love me?”  She says, “Yes” … “Maybe” … “Most of the time.”  Do you think that guy went home happy?  Certainly not.

Yet many Christians think of God’s love this way.  God loves me – most of the time.   God loves me – maybe.  God loves me – perhaps.  Some Christians think God’s love for them is conditional.  When bad things happen to them or they fall into sin, they are tempted to think that God does not love them as much as He did before those things happened.  There are other Christians who believe God loves them more when they do things right.  When they avoid sin or do something noble, they are tempted to think God’s love for them increases.

Thinking in the first case leads to despair.

And

Thinking in the second case leads to legalism.

In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul argues that there is nothing that can separate Christians from God’s love.  Nothing.

God will never love Christians

Any less nor any more

Because He loves them

With a perfect love.

God’s love for Christians is unconditional.  No strings attached.  No qualifications.  No “ifs, ands, buts, maybes, or perhaps.’”

The Bible says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  

If you are a Christian . . .

This means that God will never

Love you any LESS than

He loved you when you

Came to faith in Christ.

And

He will never love you

Any MORE since you’ve

Come to faith in Christ.

God loves you in His perfect Son Jesus Christ.

He doesn’t love you

On the basis of what YOU

Have done for HIM,

But

He loves you

On the basis of what

HE has done for YOU.

So when bad things happen to you, and you suffer, and you’re tempted to think God must not really love you, Paul is saying, “Stop that wrong thinking!”  At the conclusion of Romans 8 Paul lists no fewer than seven (7) forms of suffering Christians may undergo that could cause them to think they are not loved by God.

Verse 35 declares, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

Will Christians undergo tribulation or trouble?  Yes.  Jesus says in 16:33: “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”  Trouble and tribulation are not a sign of God’s failure to love us.

Will Christians undergo distress or hardships?  Yes.  Hebrews 12:7, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

Hardships are not a sign

Of God’s failure to love us.

Indeed . . .

God often uses hardships

To strengthen our faith in Him.

So when bad things happen to you, and you suffer, and you’re tempted to think God must not really love you, Paul is saying, “Stop that wrong thinking!”

Will Christians undergo persecution?  Yes.  The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”  

Your persecution may look different than persecution your brothers and sisters are facing in places like Northern Africa or Central Asia, but you will undergo persecution.  It’s not a sign of God’s failure to love you.

Will you suffer famine in this life?  You may. There are people hungry right now in your community.  There are people hungry throughout the world.  Those who have are to share with those who have not.  Getting food to hungry people is not God’s problem, it’s our problem.  When you hunger don’t take it as a sign of God’s failure to love you.

Will you suffer nakedness in this life?  It’s possible.  Not everyone has clothes.  America is arguably the most developed country in the world.  Many people lack suitable clothing.  And perhaps we could extend and application of this word “nakedness” to the shame one faces by violent assault.  Could that happen to a Christian?  Unfortunately, yes.  But don’t read even that a sign of God’s failure to love you.

Will the Christian face peril or danger in this world?  Yes.  Just consider driving down the street.  Did you know there are 42,000 deaths a year on the roads of America?  Yes, you will face danger.  Don’t read danger as a sign of God’s failure to love you.

And finally, Paul says in verse 35 that some Christians may even face the sword.  The sword means martyrdom for one’s faith.  Will you have to die for your Christian faith?  Perhaps.  But don’t read martyrdom as a sign of God’s failure to love you.

Note what the Bible says in verse 37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Again, God loves Christians not on the basis of what they have done for Him, but on the basis of what He has done for them.  God loves Christians completely.  He loves them perfectly.  He loves them consistently.  He will never love them any less nor any more because He loves them with a perfect love.

So Paul concludes the chapter with a magnificent statement about God’s love for Christians.  He writes in Romans 9:38-39, “For I am persuaded (I am thoroughly convinced!) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you are a Christian, God is for you!  God – the Supreme Creator of all things; Highest Judge in all the land – is for you and He loves you perfectly in Jesus Christ.  There is no court higher than God’s court.  If you’ve placed your faith in Jesus Christ, all of your sin is forgiven.  God looks at you and says, “No condemnation; not guilty!”

Thankfully, there is no “court of appeals” or appellate process you must endure.  To the charge of sin in the Christian’s life, God the Righteous Judge says, “Not guilty, case dismissed, court adjourned.”

And this is a demonstration of God’s perfect love for you in Christ.

I must measure God’s love for me

Not the basis of my

Circumstances or my feelings,

But by what He has done for me.

Use this principle as a daily guide.

So when you feel that God loves you only conditionally, based on your performance, based on your circumstances, forget those feelings.  Remember . . . God loves you perfectly because of what He did for you in Christ.

Remember that principle when your heart condemns you.  You cry, “How can God love me after what I just did?  I let Him down again! I let my friends down again! I let my children down!  I let my parents down again!  How can God love me?!”

Then say to yourself, “I must measure God’s love for me not on the basis of my circumstances or my feelings, but by what God has done for me.”

That’s what matters.  That’s the Christian’s secret to knowing true love and feeling truly loved.

This is God’s 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.”

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Dealing Biblically With Feelings Of Insecurity

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

7May  Insecurity is one of those emotions frequently hidden in some of the most successful people.  The CEO of a major company have suffered from it.  Even world leaders and United States Presidents have suffered from it.  Some of the most gifted people in the most visible professions have suffered from it – great athletes, doctors, lawyers, actors, musicians, and public speakers.

Because it is an emotion, nearly every one of us suffers from insecurity at some time or another.   And insecurity takes many forms.  It encompasses other feelings, such as inadequacy and inferiority.  Insecurity is that improper feeling that tells us things like “we don’t measure up” or “we’re not good enough,” or “there’s something wrong with us.”

And sometimes we feel insecure because of our past.  Perhaps someone said something hurtful to us years ago – a parent, an employer, or even a good friend.  And when we recall those hurtful words we begin to feel paralyzed by insecurity.

Christians may take great comfort and counsel in dealing with insecurity from a passage of Scripture in the first chapter of Jeremiah.  Who was Jeremiah?  Jeremiah was a man who apparently battled insecurity (Jeremiah 1:6-8).  He thought he was too young for the task to which God had called him.  He lacked confidence to speak God’s Word and he feared what others would say or do to him.

So God reassures Jeremiah with words of comfort that apply in large measure to every child of God.  In Jeremiah 1:5, He says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah was called to a tough ministry.  It was a difficult ministry.  He preached during a time in Israel’s history when the people were wayward, backslidden, and unrepentant.  In fact, Jeremiah preached for forty years without any visible impact upon his hearers.  That’s like a pastor preaching for forty years in a church without baptizing a single person!

Jeremiah was known as “the weeping prophet.”  He had mood swings just as you and I.  In fact, there would even come a time where Jeremiah would curse the day he was born (Jeremiah 20:14-18).

What to Remember When You Feel Insecure…

Someone said that the great prophets of the Old Testament are not to be viewed as “models for boldness and courage,” but “mirrors for identity.”  We study them and often feel, “I can relate.  I understand.  He’s just like me.” 

So when Jeremiah started to feel insecure, he could always go back to this statement in verse 5.  God gave him some things to remember.  And that kept him going.  This statement will keep us going, too.  Today we will study verse 5 and discover three invaluable truths:

1) You Are A Special Product Of God

Verse 5a says, “Before I formed you in the womb…”

The key word in the first part of verse 5 is the word, “formed.”  The word “formed” here speaks of the producing of something.  It is used for example, of a potter producing a pot out of clay, or a sculptor producing a statue.

And . . .

What is true of Jeremiah is true of us:

God specially formed each one of us.

The Bible says in Genesis 1:27 that God created us “in His image; after His likeness.”   That is, there is something we share with God no other creature shares.  That’s why human life is sacred to God.  We are a special product of God.

Now what that means is that God is the Creator and He knew what He was doing when He made us.  God made us just like He wanted us.

We often joke around when we say, “You know, when God made you, he broke the mold.”  Truth is, when God made every one of us, he broke the mold.  It’s amazing that there can be so many people and yet no two are exactly alike!

You and I are a special product of God.

God made you just like He wanted you.

Feelings of inadequacy and insecurity lead many to question God’s creation of them.  Some people feel they’re too tall, too short, too pushy, or too quiet.  While he was writing about Israel’s rejection of the Gospel, Paul made a statement that applies to the questioning of our Creator in Romans 9:20 where he writes, “Who are you to reply against God?  Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why have made me like this?’”  Think about it: Who are we to call into question God’s creative genius?!

God formed you.

God made you

Just like He wanted.

You are a special

Product of God.

2) You are the Special Pleasure of God.

Verse 5b says, “ …I knew you; …”

The key word here is the word, “knew.”  God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”  God’s not talking about mere intellectual knowledge.  He’s talking about a special, intimate, personal, and loving knowledge.

It’s the same word used to describe Adam’s intimacy with Eve in Genesis 4:1 where it says, “Adam knew Eve and she conceived.”  The word “knowledge” here refers to a “special, intimate, loving knowledge God has with respect to His children.”  His children give Him pleasure because He loves them in a special way.

You are the special pleasure of God!  When He formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you.  That is, God knows all about you and He loves you anyway!   The fact that God loved Jeremiah and that He knew Him before He was even born would be especially meaningful later.  God knew there would come a time when Jeremiah would look out at the crowd of people to whom he was called to preach and would feel a little insecure.  People can be tough.  People can be mean.  Some of them just look mean!

Sometimes you feel just like Jeremiah, a bit insecure.  You say, “I’m too young,” or maybe you say, “I’m too old;” “I’m too young.”  Maybe it’s “I’m not good enough,” or, “I’m not smart enough.” Or maybe “I’m not strong enough,” or, “I don’t have the ability,” and so on.

I heard about a guy whose wife was fascinated with some husky Hollywood actor.  She really liked watching him on TV.  The guy caught her looking at him one time and said, “You take away his money, his good looks, and his muscular body, and what do you have?”  She smiled and said, “I’d have you!”

But God says to His children, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you.  You are My special product and My special pleasure.  I made you just the way I wanted to make you and I love you just the way you are.”

When you start to feel insecure, remember you are a special product of God, and you are the special pleasure of God.  Something else to remember:

3) You Have A Special Purpose For God .

The last part of verse 5 says, “Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  There are two key words here; “sanctified” and “ordained.”  They could also be translated as being “set apart” and “appointed.”  Both of these words refer to the believer’s special purpose in life.

Just as God had appointed Jeremiah for a specific task in his life, so God appoints you and me to live and work for His glory, no matter our job, our location, or present situation.  And just as God equipped Jeremiah to do what He has called him to do, so God will equip and empower you and me to do what He has called us to do.

God has created you for a special purpose.  Your greater purpose is to bring glory to Him.  The Bible says in Revelation 4:11 that God has “created all things, and it is by His will they exist and were created.”  So no matter your current job, schooling, background, giftedness, or assignment – fulfill your greater purpose by knowing God and living for His greater glory.

Ultimately, the Christian finds security in his or her identity in Christ Jesus.  If we have placed our faith in Christ, we know can know God and know that He accepts us.  Let that sink in – He accepts us!  We do not have to earn his approval because we already have it in Jesus Christ.

Now that is real security; eternal security.

This is God’s 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.”

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Hot Off The “Stress” – Handling It God’s Way

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6MayAccording to the American Institute of Stress (yes, there really is such a place), stress causes around one million workers to miss work every day.  One million a day!  Whether American workers currently on lockdown (COVID-19) are presently experiencing more or less stress at home will differ among households, but one million workers not working each day in America because of stress – that’s just amazing.

The word “stress” has become increasingly popular over the last few decades.  People talk about things being “stressful” or their being “stressed” and “stressed out.”   Americans go to “stress management courses” and read books and listen to CDs and podcasts that teach “how to manage stress” or “how to cope with stress.”

Stress also takes a toll upon the body’s circulatory system, respiratory system, and digestive system.  Stress affects us physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

If we don’t deal

With our stress,

It will deal with us!

In today’s blog, we will look at Isaiah 40:27-30, which is a great passage in the Bible for us to learn God’s way to help us deal properly and effectively with stress.  We will see three vital truths:

1) We Need To Be Encouraged By The God Who Sees Us. 

Isaiah is prophesying about a time during which the people of God are held captive by the Babylonians – that would definitely be a stressful time them!  God’s people often wondered where their God was.  Did He see them?  Did He care?  Could He do anything about it?

Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God responds in verse 27, “Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God?’”  Have you ever spoken that way to God?  “God, you must not be able to see me.  I mean, I hear preachers talk about how You are so powerful and I read about You in the Bible, but I guess I’m the exception; You must be able to see everyone else but me!”

In this passage God is essentially saying, “YES!  Yes I do see you, and yes I care about you.” Verse 28 reinforces this statement, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.”

Here’s a paraphrase of what Isaiah is saying: “You must not have enough information.   Or maybe you have forgotten what you learned.  Allow Me to inform you; to enlighten you about the God Who sustains you!”

2) Be Enlightened about the God Who Sustains You.

Isaiah gives God’s people a little theology lesson.  He could just as well have said, “Let me share with you why God is able to help you in this stressful situation.  Let me tell you about the God Who sustains you, supplying you with everything you need to get through every single day.”  

Isaiah shares with them the first essential the truth about Who God is – The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, God is everlasting!  Someone might object, “But what was before God?”  Everything has a cause, so what caused God?

What’s the answer to this problem?!

The problem is not the answer,

The problem is the question.

The question assumes

Something, or someone,

Existed before God.

But God is everlasting.

He has always been.

He is eternal in nature.

 There never has been a time

When God was not.

He has always been.

He is the “uncaused cause,”

If you like.

Isaiah is enlightening God’s people about their God.  He reminds them that God is everlasting.  God is the One who created the ends of the earth, including everything inside the earth, which includes them.  He is an awesome God Who has the ability to sustain them and supply them in their time of need.

Isaiah gives us the second truth of Who God is when he says, “neither faints nor is weary.”  That’s the true God of the Bible!  Unlike man, God never faints nor is weary. Isaiah will go on to say in verse 30, “even the youths shall faint and grow weary.”  That is, “Even the ones we consider to have the most strength and energy eventually faint and become weary.”

Like little boys and girls running around the living room.  Even they (eventually!) become tired from all their running around.

Isaiah gives us a third truth of Who God is when he states, “His understanding is unsearchable.”  That’s Isaiah’s way of saying, “God is in control.  He knows everything about you and your situation.  He knows you inside and out and has a plan for you, though you may not understand it completely.”

That’s really comforting to us when we start to feel stressed.  God’s understanding is unsearchable.  That is, God’s plan for your life includes some things that you may not understand, but you can trust Him.  So rather than getting stressed out, remember that God knows what you don’t.  He has more information than you do and He knows what to do with that information for your good and for His glory.

3) Be Empowered by the God Who Strengthens You.

Isaiah declares in verse 29, “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.”  When we start to feel stressed, we need to be empowered by the God Who strengthens us.  He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  And here again is that teaching we read a moment ago from verse 30, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall.” 

We are human beings.  Our bodies, created by God, are subject to the effects of the Fall.  Because of sin in the world, everything is less than perfect, including our bodies.  Even the best of us—the most conditioned and physically fit—eventually become faint and weary.  And when we run out of strength, be it physical strength, emotional strength, or spiritual strength—you know what happens?  We become stressed.

So what is the answer?  God tells us in verse 31, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength. I used to think to “wait on the LORD” meant just to kind of stop and be still; to be quiet, and meditate.  That’s not exactly what it means to “wait on the LORD.”  The Hebrew word translated “wait” here is not a passive term, but an active term.  The Hebrew word translated “wait” is not a passive term, but an active term.  It’s a bit like the way we use the word “wait” to describe a “waiter,” the server who brings our food at a restaurant.

We go into a good restaurant and we sit down.  After a few moments, a “waiter” comes over to our table.  He or she may even ask, “Has anyone ‘waited’ on you yet?”  Or they may say something like, “My name is John and I will be ‘waiting’ on you.”

What he means, of course, that he is going to be serving you, coming into the room periodically, looking at you expectantly, seeing if there is anything he can do.

In this context to “wait on the LORD” means we do something.  We turn to Him, we look up to Him, we go to Him and place our faith in Him.  And if we’ll do that, the Bible tells us what follows, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”

The word “renew” there is a word that is best translated here as “exchange.”  Those who, when they become stressed, go to God, will “renew,” will “exchange” their dwindling strength which has become faint and weary with God’s strength, the God who never faints or becomes weary.

If we try to deal

With stress

On our own,

We will go

From “stress”

To “distress.”

This is precisely why we must turn to God and be empowered by His strength.  If we try to deal with stress on our own, we will go from “stress” to “distress.”  Exchange your strength for God’s.  Be empowered by the God Who strengthens you.  And when you do, you will “mount up with wings like eagles, you will run and not be weary, you will walk and not faint.”  How?  Because you will be flying, running, and walking in the strength of God rather than flying, running, and walking in the strength of man.

Going to God every day, seeking Him through prayer and study of His Word, is a great way to exchange your strength for His each day.

The old hymn has it right:

“Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
And feed on His Word.”

This is God’s 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.”

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Dealing With The Need To Forgive Others

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

2May  A mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her little boy scream.  She got in the room and saw the little boy’s younger sister pulling his hair.  Taking her daughter’s hand and slowly releasing her grip on her the boy’s hair, the mother said, “There, there. She didn’t mean it. She’s only two.  She doesn’t know it hurts.”  The little boy nodded his head as the mother left the room.  His mother had hardly shut the door behind herself before hearing the little girl scream.  Rushing back into the room the mother said, “What happened?!”  The little boy said, “She knows now!” 

We all face the challenge of forgiving others.  Forgiving others is not always easy.  It is much easier to seek revenge or get even like the little boy with his sister.  But Christians are called to a higher standard.

In Matthew 18, Peter approaches Jesus with a question about forgiveness.  Today we are going to the Matthew 18:21-35 and see what these verses teach us.   Verse 21 says, “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ ”  The Jewish people believed it was a noble thing to forgive an offender three times.  Peter figures Jesus raises the bar and that for him the “forgiveness limit” is probably more than three, so he suggests, “Up to seven times?”  

Notice what Jesus says to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  Some translations have, “seventy seven times.”  It matters little how you translate it because . . .

Jesus’ point is

That there is

No limit

To forgiveness.

As we study these verses we learn several vital truths for life:

1) We must Forgive Continually.

The immediate context concerns the forgiveness of a believer; a Christian brother or sister.  Because Christians can forgive on the strength and power of the gospel, they have the ability to forgive anyone who sins against them.

Jesus commands us to, “Love our enemies.”  He says in Matthew 5:44, “Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”  We must forgive and we must forgive continually.

Let’s broaden the application:

  • How many times shall my parents sin against me, and I forgive?  Continually.
  • How many times shall my spouse, sin against me, and I forgive?  Continually.
  • How many times shall my children sin against me and I forgive?  Continually.

Forgiveness does not mean

That we agree

With another’s sin

Against us

Or that we dismiss it

As unimportant.

Nor are we to

Compromise our

Christian convictions

Or become a

Codependent doormat

And allow people

To walk all over us.

What forgiveness does mean,

It mean that we will make the

Choice to forgive the sin

Of that someone.

Now maybe you’re asking, “How in the world is that possible?  How can I forgive and not bear a grudge against this person?”  We’ll get to that in a moment but first let’s note a second thing about forgiveness.

2) We Must Forgive Compassionately. 

In our passage of Scripture for today, Jesus tells a parable about a king who had a servant brought before him.  The servant owed the king a huge sum of money; “ten thousand talents.”  In Bible days ten thousand talents was a debt no one could repay.  Today we might say the servant owed the king “a trillion dollars,” an amount the average person could never repay.

Because the king threatens to throw the servant into debtor’s prison, the servant falls down to his knees and begins cry out to the king, “Please, have patience with me and I will pay back every single penny.”  

And this moves the king to compassion.  In Matthew 18:27 Jesus says, “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  

What great compassion that king had!  The servant could never repay the king, but the king forgives his debt anyway.  And the king forgives him at great cost to himself – It cost the king a trillion dollars.  He would never get that back.  Forgiveness was costly to him, but he forgave the servant.

Does this servant

Appreciate the compassion

Of his master’s forgiveness?

Does he understand

The great cost to this king

In his forgiving him

This huge debt?

If he did,

Then he would

Extend the same

Forgiveness to others.

He will forgive just

As he’s been forgiven.

But that’s not what happens in this parable.

The servant goes out and finds someone who owes him “a hundred denarii” (Verse 28).  Compared to a trillion dollars, a hundred denarri is like twenty bucks.  The servant himself had been forgiven a trillion dollar debt and the first thing he does is find someone who owes him twenty dollars.

After finding the guy who owes him twenty bucks, the ungrateful servant takes him by the throat and demands: “Pay me what you owe me!”  Then the man falls down and cries, “Be patient with me and I’ll pay it all back” – which sounds familiar to careful hearers of the parable.

But the ungrateful servant has no compassion.  So the king summons the servant and says, “You wicked servant.  I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  I had compassion on you!”  He adds in verse 33, “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?”

Jesus’ point is clear: Just as the king had forgiven compassionately, so should the man have forgiven compassionately – and so should we forgive others compassionately.

So what happens next?  Verses 34-35 tells us, “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  Notice a key truth – Jesus calls us to forgive “from the heart.”  He says in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.” Forgiveness, complete forgiveness, flows from the heart.

3) We Must Forgive Completely.

What happens if we don’t forgive others completely?  According to the parable, we are “delivered to the torturers.”  Whatever else this means we can infer that it is a punishment we bring upon ourselves, maybe in the form of physical or emotional pain.

When we fail to forgive others,

We hurt only ourselves.

But the real issue is, How do we forgive others?

Certainly not on the strength

Of our own abilities.

That would prove disastrous.

Rather, Christians are

Empowered to forgive

On the strength of the gospel.

Here’s how the Bible puts in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

So we look to the cross and remember that we have been forgiven a huge debt that we could never repay.  We could never atone for our sins.  No amount of good works could come close to “paying what we owe.” We identify with the wicked servant in the parable.  We understand that God is our King, our Master, who has forgiven us.

Here’s the point . . .

When you really know forgiveness from God,

You will have little difficulty forgiving others.

When God forgave our huge debt, He forgave it at great cost to Himself.  It cost God the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It cost God to forgive you and me.

The reason we can forgive

Others continually, compassionately,

And completely is because

God in Christ forgives us

Continually, compassionately,

And completely.

But if we don’t really know that forgiveness in an experiential way, we’ll spend the rest of our lives like that wicked servant, always demanding others “pay what they owe.” 

We can forgive others continually, compassionately, and completely – Why? – Because God in Christ forgives us continually, compassionately, and completely.

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.”

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Trusting God Before, During, And After COVID-19

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

7May  Our State is beginning to implement “reentry” procedures for getting us back into a more normal way of life.  For the past seven weeks we have been listening to the experts and looking for help in every direction as we have been confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Yet . . .

The voice that is

The most significant

And the direction

That will be

The most helpful

Seems to have taken a backseat

In the midst of all the advice of

Scientists and medical sources.

The most important advice and direction we can follow today is from the God who created us and wants to be involved in our lives.  As we near an end of our “Stay At Home” phase of dealing with COVID-19, I want us to look into God’s Word and let Him give the advice we all need as we move forward and beyond this difficult time.

In my daily Bible reading, I am reading through the Book of Isaiah these days and came upon a chapter that speaks directly to our crisis.  The prophet foresaw a day when the people of Israel would be judged by God.  In Isaiah 17:5-6 God says, “It shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain and his arm harvests the ears, and as when one gleans the ears of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.  Gleanings will be left in it, as when an olive tree is beaten.”  During olive harvesting season in Israel workers go throughout the grove and beat the trees to knock the olives from their branches.  While most fall to the ground, a few olives are always left.

This is a powerful picture of God’s judgment against His sinful people.  But there is the declaration of good news in verses 7-8, “In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made.” 

The people had trusted

What they could make

Rather than the One

Who made them.

When they got so far down

They could look nowhere but up,

They would turn back to the God

They should have been trusting

And worshiping all along.

This is something that is of vital importance that the people needed to deal with immediately.  In verses 10-11 God says, “You have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger, though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain.”

In other words . . .

Trusting man’s ability

And enjoying the resources

God has provided for us

Without acknowledging God

Is always a tragic mistake.

How this warning relates to the pandemic 

These words are in God’s Word as a warning not just to their original readers, but to us as well.  Is God trying to say something to us in this world-wide event?  Is this God’s judgment on the world?  People of faith explore these questions when disaster strikes and the world is in upheaval.  So, with the global reach of the coronavirus, the question of whether the pandemic is “God’s judgment on a sinful and corrupt world” requires some attention.  I believe that the answer to this question is both “Yes” and “No.”

According to the Bible, there is a brokenness in this world that has existed since the beginning of man.  Since the Fall of man – man turning away from God’s Word and will in the Garden of Eden – all the bad stuff we encounter today entered the world: death, disease, destruction, murder and a whole list of sins is the reality of the world we live in. God uses these in two ways: 1) To remind us that something is terribly wrong in the world that man can’t overcome; and 2) To warn the individual or nation of God’s judgment for sinning against Him.

God is in control.  His greatest desire and priority is for a relationship with man and his welfare.  When disasters happen we need to see them as a part of the fallen condition of our world.  Because man disobeyed God and went his way instead of God’s, one of the consequences of that sin is that death and disasters happen.

It is a way for God to remind us that there is something terribly wrong with the world that man cannot make right or undo.  It is a way for God to try to wake us up and to say, “Please make sure you’re right with Me; Please think about why these things are happening and where you are in your relationship with Me.”

There is a sense in these kinds of disasters for us to wonder whether these events are a judgment from God.  Jesus addressed the issue in Luke 13:1-5 about whether disasters are God’s judgment.  In these verses, Jesus uses the example of a tower that had fallen and killed several people.  He asked, “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Verses 4-5).  Jesus is telling us, “When people die in a disaster that does not mean because God is judging them.  He it’s trying to show that they are no worse than anybody else.  What God is trying to do is to get our attention and to understand need to deal with the issue of our repentance from our sin and accepting God’s way of salvation before it is too late.

On the other hand, there are times when God does judge a nation.  In Deuteronomy 29 God lays down guidelines for blessings and disasters.  I know this is addressed to the nation of Israel, but I believe the principle applies to any nation,  for God tells us in Proverbs 11:11, “By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”  In Proverbs 14:34, “Righteous exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” The Bible tells us in Romans 1:21-32 that “God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” because they: (1) suppress the truth (verses 18-20); although man knows about God, they do not glorify God (verse 21); and (3) they worship the things they created rather than God alone.  Because of this God “also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.”  Because man has turned his back on God and is seeking to live life without Him, we are bearing the consequences of that sin in what we see going on today.

So many today are insisting that we look to science to help us deal with what we are facing in life.  And I would agree with them.  But those same people are rejecting what science is showing us.  And if we are honest with the conclusions, we will see that science agrees with what the Bible teaches.  The Bible teaches that we are to “choose life” – that refers to choosing God’s way but also to protect the most innocent among us: the baby in the womb.  Science is very clear that the baby being developed in the womb is very much a human being – he/she has DNA which will determine his/her development; he/she has everything they need to survive outside the womb but just needs time to develop and grow; he/she can hear, feel, and already has a personality.   I could go on about what modern science and technology reveals to us about the baby in the womb.  And yet, some people reject the truth or “suppress” the truth about these facts.

We are being warned about the danger and damage of trying to change one’s sexual identity and same-sex marriages.  People are rejecting the way God made them as well as God’s design for marriage.  How can we expect God to bless these things?  Do we think God will continue to work with man if he continues to refuse to look to Him and turn to Him?  Sometimes God allows disaster to get man’s attention and help him to come to his senses to bring Him to an awareness of his need of the one true God.

Is COVID-19 a judgment from God?  I do not claim to be a prophet but I think we ought to be open to find out what God is trying to tell us in it.   The real question that needs to be answered is,

“Is God the One

To whom I look

To and trust in when

Bad and good things happen?”

What I am claiming that the principle found in Isaiah 17 is just as relevant today as it was 2,700 years ago.

Neither God’s nature

Nor human nature

Have changed.

What the Lord

Judged then,

He judges today.

God told the people of Israel that they had “forgotten the God of your salvation” and shifted their faith and reliance on what they could do themselves.  Our secular culture has done the same.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo captured the spirit of our age when he said of the declining coronavirus cases in his states, “The number is down because we brought the number down.  God did not do that.  Faith did not do that.  Destiny did not do that.  A lot of pain and suffering did that.”  In his worldview, we have a choice – either we do something, or it doesn’t get done.

The governor doesn’t seem to understand

That God employs people to do His work,

That He can lead scientists and

Empower doctors in our fallen world.

Or that praying for His help

Is essential to experiencing

The fullness of His omnipotent grace.

We obviously need scientists and leaders to do their work.  But as we search for ways to defeat this disease, how many of our leaders are turning to God for help?  Praise the Lord for those who are.  When we make progress in battling the virus, how many of our people are turning publicly to God in gratitude?

When we submit our lives to our Lord, we experience the paradoxical freedom that comes from making Him our Master. Consider this profound observation by Frederick Buechner:  “We have freedom to the degree that the master whom we obey grants it to us in return for our obedience.  We do well to choose a master in terms of how much freedom we get for how much obedience.  To obey the law of the land leaves us our constitutional freedom, but not the freedom to follow our own consciences wherever they lead.  To obey the dictates of our own consciences leaves us freedom from the sense of moral guilt, but not the freedom to gratify our own strongest appetites.  To obey our strongest appetites for drink, sex, power, revenge, or whatever leaves us the freedom of an animal to take what we want when we want it, but not the freedom of a human being to be human. The old prayer speaks of God ‘in whose service is perfect freedom.’  The paradox is not as opaque as it sounds.  It means that to obey God, which above all else wishes us well, leaves us the freedom to be the best and gladdest that we have it in us to become.  The only freedom God denies us is the freedom to destroy ourselves ultimately.”

How free are you today?  I trust you experienced the hope and peace of looking to God and leaning upon His wisdom and guidance before and during this time.  I also trust that you will continue to look to God and lean and lean upon His wisdom and guidance in the days ahead.  If not, maybe God has been trying to use this pandemic to get your attention and lead you from your reliance upon self and others to come to Jesus and look upon Him for your freedom, forgiveness, and future?

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.”

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