I’ve Made So Many Mistakes in My Life . . . How Can I Ever Be Free from All This Guilt?

Grace For The Journey

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20Jan  Millions of people, both in society and in the church, are suffering under a crushing weight of guilt.

  • Maybe you’ve had an abortion, or advised someone else to have one.
  • Maybe you’ve lied to a friend, or stolen something and never made it right.
  • Maybe you’re addicted to alcohol or pornography or drugs or spending more than you have.
  • Maybe you’ve hurt someone and never sought their forgiveness and now you can’t forgive yourself.

It could come from a thousand different things, but if you feel hopelessly lost under this pressure of guilt, the message of this blog is for you.

It’s counterproductive to try to get rid of guilt feelings

Without dealing with the cause of the guilt.

Only by denying reality can you avoid guilt feelings.

You need a permanent solution to your guilt problem,

A solution based on reality, not pretense.

The good news is that God loves you

And desires to forgive you for your sin.

But before the good news can be appreciated, we must know the bad news.  The bad news is that there’s true moral guilt, and all of us are guilty of many moral offenses against God.  The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sin is falling short of God’s holy standards.  It separates us from a relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2).  It brings disappointment, disaster, and death to our lives.  But the Bible also gives us the Good News.  The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus died on the cross as the only one worthy to pay the penalty for our sins demanded by God’s holiness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He rose from the grave, defeating sin and conquering death (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 54-57).

When Christ died on the cross for us, He said, “It is finished” (John 29:30).  The Greek word translated “it is finished” was written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. It meant “paid in full.”

Because of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf,

God freely offers us forgiveness.

The Bible makes the very clear.  In Psalm 103:12, the Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  And the Bible says in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Salvation is a gift,  The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

This gift is not dependent on our merit or effort,

But solely on Christ’s sacrifice for us.

God offers us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life,

But it’s not automatically ours.

In order to have the gift, we must choose to accept it.

You may think, “But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.”  That’s exactly right. None of us deserves God’s forgiveness.  If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it.  That’s the point of grace.

Once forgiven, we can look forward to spending eternity with Christ and our spiritual family (John 14:1-3; Revelation 20:11-22:6).  You can look forward to being reunited in Heaven with your loved ones covered by Christ’s blood (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

God doesn’t want you to go through life

Punishing yourself for the wrongs you’ve done.

Your part is to accept Christ’s atonement, not to pay for it.

No matter what you’ve done,

No sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace.

He has seen us at our worst and still loves us.

There are no limits to His forgiving grace.

And there is no freedom like the freedom of forgiveness.

You need to become part of a family of Christians called a church.  You may feel self-conscious around Christians because of your past.  You shouldn’t.  A true Christ-centered church isn’t a showcase for saints but a hospital for sinners.  The people you’re joining are just as human and imperfect as you.  Most church people aren’t self-righteous.  Those who are should be pitied because they don’t understand God’s grace.

A good church will teach the truths of the Bible, and will provide love, acceptance, and support for you.  If you cannot find such a church in your area, contact me and we’ll gladly do what we can to help you.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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What Is So Wrong About Straddling The Fence?

Grace For The Journey

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thumbnailActs 5:34-41 is a very interesting passage.  Most people see it as a “God Thing” that helped get the disciples back out on the street again to preach the gospel – that Gamaliel, was a good man with a good conscience who helped the disciples – and certainly God used it to further His purpose.  But have you ever wondered about Gamaliel, himself.  Where did he stand on the issues at hand: Jesus Christ and the gospel?  What was his reasoning concerning his proclamation?

Gamaliel was revered as a great teacher, as a liberal reformer somewhat ahead of his time – a moderate middle-of -the- road man, having a centre-right position politically speaking.  And it is true, his intervention did seem to calm the fury of the council – for a short time, but in the next chapter (Acts 6) we see the same council – the Sanhedrin, condemning and stoning Stephen.  Gamaliel was an appeaser, not an opposer.  Gamaliel was an apostle of compromise, unlike Peter and John who boldly proclaimed in Acts 5:29 & 32, “We ought to obey God rather than men” … And we are His witnesses to these things …”  Think about this, Gamaliel was a witness of the things Peter and John talked about, as well.  He must have been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, maybe even one of those who voted for His death and a witness, of such.  He knew the Scriptures, the prophecies concerning the Messiah, for he was a great teacher; He should have known better than try and remain neutral or straddle the fence when it came to Jesus.

Agnosticism is NOT a viable option.  There is a Chinese proverb which states: “He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg.”  The great philosopher Dante said it much more vigorously: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

Gamaliel was a fence straddler.  So, where did he go wrong?  Let me suggest three things.  My prayer is that we will not find ourselves doing the same thing.  May we stand with the likes of Peter, John and those throughout history who have boldly and unashamedly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. Gamaliel’s first mistake was that HE MADE A FALSE COMPARISON.

The Bible says in Acts 5:34-37, “Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.  And he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.  For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him.  He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered ad came to nothing.  After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him.  He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.”

In his speech Gamaliel made some telling points about two men, their movements, and their fate – Theudas & Judas.  But in fact . . .

He was comparing the apostles, the Gospel,

And ultimately Jesus Christ with these men.

He was suggesting Jesus was like them,

And suggesting tolerance for a moment.

He put Jesus into a pigeon-hole,

A category with other revolutionaries

Whose causes have been long since discredited.

Or he is suggesting that Jesus was just

Another reformer, philosopher, teacher, or guru.

He dismisses Him with:

“We know all about such characters.”

He is just like anyone else.

That is so much like the thinking in our day.  I recently was cleaning out my files and came across a newspaper article from 1999.  It said, “Inter- faith dialogue is very fashionable in some Christian circles today … In quest of religious tolerance, Geneva’s St Pierre Cathedral is to welcome the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists, to preach at a Sunday service.  Between 10,000 to 15,000 worshippers are expected to attend the service at the 12th-century building in Geneva’s Old Town, which in the 16th-century became the church of John Calvin, the most influential thinker in Reformed Christianity. This is the latest event in a series which indicates a growing role for the cathedral – one of the most important places in Reformed church history – as a center for inter-faith dialogue.”  Evidentially the cathedrals’ proprietors felt that their message concerning Jesus and the Dalai Lama’s message of Buddhism were of equal weight.  Sadly it has gotten even worse today.

But Jesus is unique –

He cannot be set

Alongside Theudas, or Judas,

Or Gandhi or anyone else,

For that matter.

And one must take a stand concerning Jesus.  C.S.Lewis so poignantly pointed out that Jesus is either crazy, corrupt or the Christ!

Exclusive claims of Christ

Go against the grain –

It is not acceptable,

So the temptation is

To soften the message,

Make it more palatable,

Hence making false comparisons.

Gamaliel was straddling the fence, and that is both dangerous and uncomfortable.

Are you making false comparisons about Christ and straddling the fence when it comes to Jesus?

This just set Gamaliel up to make another mistake,

  1. Gamaliel’s second mistake was that HE SUGGESTED A FALSE CRITERIA.

The Bible says in Acts 5:38-39, “And now I say unto you, keep away from these men, and let them alone: for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it – lest you even be found even to fight against God.”  He began by using success as criterion – we will measure this movement by its success – time will tell if it is of God.  Success is a standard gauge of the world in evaluating men, movements, and merchandise.  Someone once said, “Nothing succeeds like success.”  But earth’s yardstick does not apply to Christ and Christianity.

In fact, look at Bible record and you will see many apparent failures:

  1. Abraham leaves wealth and comfort of Ur to become a nomad in desert.
  2. Moses gives up Pharaoh’s palace to become a shepherd then suffers with God’s people for 40 years in wilderness.
  3. Nehemiah gave up a well-paying job as a highly placed government official to build a wall around a ruin.
  4. Jeremiah was imprisoned at the bottom of a stinking muddy hole for proclaiming the Word of the Lord.
  5. And worst of all, the Founder of Christianity Jesus Christ, died a shameful death on a cursed cross.
  6. The world’s idea of success is an improper criterion.

Gamaliel followed this logic by suggesting that durability is a viable criterion.  There are many false religions and philosophies that are centuries old and some older than Christianity itself.  The Buddhism we spoke about earlier started 500 years before Christ was born.  There is the story that is told about Donald Soper, also known as “Soap-box Soper,” a Methodist preacher, who did open air preaching at Tower Hill in London for 65 years.  As he was preaching about Christ one day an objector, a rather scruffy, unkempt sort of individual, yelled “Look how long Christianity has been around – 2000 years – and what good has it done the world?”  To which Soper replied: “Look how long soap has been around -+3000 years – and what good has it done you?!”

It is not about how long something is around,

But the truth and foundation under it,

To say nothing about

The appropriation of it for oneself!

By and large, Christianity is still a minority faith in most parts of world.  Success has never been the true criterion for judging Jesus Christ.  Not time but eternity will tell.  If you are postponing a commitment to Jesus Christ on the basis of His success or durability in other peoples lives, or whether or not it will be of any long-term advantage to you – to see if it will make you happy, healthy and wealthy – you may live and die with Gamaliel straddling the fence.  And that is not a good thing!

What is your criteria?

Having made a false comparison and suggesting a false criterion, Gamaliel made his third mistake

  1. HE ARRIVED AT A FALSE CONCLUSION.

The Bible says in Acts 5:40, “And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”

Their thinking was, “Leave them alone, warn them to keep them quiet; let them go; we don’t have anything to worry about.”  Sounds like good advice – even indicating slight sympathy for Christianity.  I believe today this would be considered astute political thinking i.e. let the Romans look after them if they are trouble-makers, disturbing the peace, etc.  It seemed like a safe compromise – let’s not be hasty, not make any definitive judgment, or take any decision we might live to regret – leave them alone.  He figured, “It’s ok, its no big deal.”

This is where many otherwise reasonable people find themselves – in the midst of non-committal.  Clements wrote – “But that is one thing no intelligent or responsible person can possibly do with Christianity.  If the apostolic message is true, it is the most important thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.  If it is false, it is the most outrageous lie ever perpetrated on the general public.  You cannot adopt a non-committal position. The claims of Jesus Christ demand a verdict.  During the time of the reformation there were many great minds, two of which were Luther and Erasmus.  Erasmus was always the appeaser.  The moderates throughout Europe, the gentlemen of the courts, the semi-skeptical intelligences of the universities told the golden-mouthed apostle of compromise that he was in the right.

But the heart of Christianity beat with Luther.  Erasmus would never commit himself to what he professed – maybe he did not have the courage to say with Luther when called on to renounce his heresies: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  Coming to false conclusions will leave you straddling the fence like Gamaliel.  No where do we ever hear of Gamaliel making a profession for Christ – he may have straddled the fence one second to long and ended up impaling himself with hell forever.  Don’t wait, coming to the wrong conclusion, that you have all the time in the world; thinking it really doesn’t matter anyway, could be eternally disastrous.

Gamaliel and the Sanhedrin may have agreed to let them go but there was still a lot of frustration, anger, hatred, and unrest within themselves concerning the disciples, but not about them specifically – it all boiled down to the person of Jesus and the Gospel of Christ!  But not so with the disciples, look at what the Bible says in Acts 5:41, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” 

They were rejoicing!

They were not straddling the fence –

They were committed whole heartedly.

And thank God, that Gamaliel had one pupil who was no appeaser, or compromiser, or straddler.  Paul, first known as Saul, did not take up his mentor’s lead when confronted on the road to Damascus.  He did not say, “Well, let me wait and see how your movement goes, then maybe I’ll join up.”  Before he was saved, he was 100% for against Christ; after being born again, after seeing the light, he was 100% for God.

How about you today?  Jesus told the church at Laodicea, because they were lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, He would spue them out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).  You don’t want to be lukewarm – you don’t want to be found straddling the fence!  Are you?  Please make a decision for Christ: it may be for salvation or if you are saved, it may be a complete commitment of yourself to Him.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Stop Setting On The Fence . . . Make The Right Choice, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

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thumbnailI want to use the next two blogs to continue our look into the Scripture regarding “straddling the fence.”  Yesterday we began this study by dealing with the question, ‘Who do you belong to?  In today’s climate it seems that some are advocating a kind of an undercover approach to living for God.  The goal is not to offend or appear “holier-than-thou.”   It has led to Christians “straddling the fence” to appear more normal and less offensive.  Have you been straddling the fence lately?

The Bible says in 2 Kings 17:39-42, “But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.  So these nations feared the LORD, yet served their carved images, also their children, and their children’s children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day.”

Israel of the past is so much like many today.   They know there is a God.  They believe in Him, at least they claim it with their speech, but hypocritically worship AND live for other “gods.”

There are some religions, that although they claim to be Christian, incorporate praying to statues (idols) and people of the religion’s past.  Not all “gods” are as clear as those idols found in some religions.  Many of the “gods” are things that get more attention than our Creator and the lover of our soul should be receiving.

These false “gods” can be a job, a spouse, a person, a shiny new car, a house, a sports team, or anything that makes us put something ahead of loving and living for God.

Although one’s justification

May be that

“I need that thing”,

“A man has to work”,

Or even

“God understands that

I am in a world

And I have to do

What I have to do to survive,”

The attention those things receive

Shows God He is not

The priority in one’s life.

He deserves to be.

It is important to know that in this area – God does not understand.  He commands us to put Him first!  The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:5 and in Mark 12:30, ““And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.  This is the first commandment.”

Yet, today a lot of people object to the need to put God as a first priority in their live.  Someone reply, “Well, if I put God first, I will have nothing to live on, people will laugh at me, and I will be an outcast!”  Much of the lost respect for Christianity comes from that kind of compromising done by so many that claim to be Christians.

Yet, God says in Matthew 6:31-33, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, What shall we wear?  For after all these things do the Gentiles see. For your heavenly Father knows that you need of all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

God will take care of His own, especially those that are totally relying on Him.  The Bible says in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

One needs only rely on Him.

That is the way He wants it.

We cannot have it both ways.  We should not live for the world, make it the highest priority, and then only tip our hat to God once a week.

God should be the One

We look to and lean upon,

Not the world’s ever-changing whims.

A Christian has no business

Straddling the fence between

Living for God and living for the world.

The Bible reminds us in James 4:4, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

We are in the world

And

Do need some things it offers.

However . . .

Do not make

What it temporarily offers

Your primary concern.

To do so is not

Putting God first.

Get off the “fence” of trying to be on both sides: God’s and the world’s.  God will provide and take care of you if you will just trust and obey Him.  God lays down the principle in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Stop sitting on the fence . . . Make the right choice today!

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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No Fence-Sitting Saints

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

thumbnail.png The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 30:13 that while in pursuit of the Amalekites, David and his six hundred men came upon an Egyptian and asked him, “To whom do you belong . . .?”

This question is applicable for all of us today

Because our God will tolerate no rival.

There will be no neutralities

When it comes to our

Holy relationship with God;

And so, the question is put before us: “To whom do you belong?”  The Bible knows nothing of the fence-sitting saint.

There are only two answers to this question . . .

1) By natural birth, we belong to the god of this age, who has blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4).  As children of Adam, we are sons of Satan.  Adam, who was the federal head of humanity, rebelled against God and brought judgment down on all of his offspring.  We are all born “dead in our transgressions and sins,” following “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:1-2).

But . . .

2) Through a supernatural birth, those who have, by grace through faith, placed their trust in the atoning death of Jesus Christ belong to the Creator / Savor God of the ages.  When we admit that we are sinners,that we can not save ourselves, and accept what Jesus did on the cross and through the empty tomb, we become children of the Most High God, we have been made alive in Christ and we now belong to the family of faith.

So . . . what is your response to this all-important question – “Who do you belong to?”  Your answer will be revealed as people observe the following . . .

What does your heart beat for?

I know the heart beats for a thousand different things, but . . .

What does your heart primarily beat for?

Does it beat for your self

Or for your Savior?

Does it beat for the expansion of your kingdom

Or for the kingdom of God?

Does it beat for success at the expense of others

Or for giving God glory through service?

Jesus said, “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.  For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  (Luke 6:45).  When we are born again our heart and nature is changed and we become able to produce good things that will glorify and honor God and benefit others.

What company do you keep?

We live in this world, and we keep company with many who belong to this world. But the deepest understanding of this question is this . . .

Whom do we associate with

Or take delight in the company of?

Is it those who are living for the Word

Or those who live for the world?

The Bible reminded us in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.”  Who in your life is shaping your character?

How do you spend your discretionary time and money?

It might surprise you, but . . .

What we do with our discretionary time and money

Goes a long way toward demonstrating whom we belong to.

When we see all that we have as a gift from God,

We will begin to invest more and more of it

In ways that glorify our God.

How we spend our time and money

Expresses our gratitude (or lack of gratitude)

For God’s goodness and care;

And gives us opportunity privately and publicly

To thank God for His faithfulness in the past,

The supply of our provisions in the present,

And our faith in God for our promised future

And the fulfillment of His priorities.

Who do you belong to?  Have you been straddling the fence lately?  What would those closest to you say?  Remember, your life is the only Bible many people around you will ever read.  As they read your life, Who would they say you belong to?

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Modern Manipulation Of The Gospel Message

Grace For The Journey

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Many in the church today have fallen prey to a massive misconception when it comes to the message of the Gospel.  Theologically progressives have manipulated the Good News . . .

Changing the focus from upward to inward . . .

From serving the Savior to serving the self.

Far too many people imagine that somehow

God’s warning to Pharaoh has been changed

From “Let My people go so they can serve Me”

To “Let My people go so I can serve them.”

The church today – and particularly the church in the Western world – is full of the misguided, who have absorbed “gospel-lite” messages designed to meet felt needs and who believe that God exists to serve their ends, satisfy their needs, and quench their thirst for all things material.  But this is not what the Gospel is all about!  The Bible warns us in 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15) and in Revelation 4:11, “Your are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power . . .”  

Here are three questions for you to ponder in order to discern if you have manipulated the Gospel message in any way:

  1. Why do you attend church?
  2. Why do you pray?
  3. Why do you tithe (assuming that you do tithe) your income?

If these Christian disciplines are part of your life simply because you desire to please your God and praise His mighty name, then the message has not been manipulated in your mind.  But if you attend church, pray, and tithe in order that you might get something in return, you can be sure that the message has indeed been manipulated.

It comes down to two words:

Duty and devotion.

If you do these and other things

For God out of a sense of duty

(Inasmuch as the Christian disciplines are our duty),

The message has been manipulated.

But if you do these and other things

Out of a sense of devotion,

Because your heart beats for nothing

Other than the Lord Jesus Christ

And you are overwhelmed with love and thanksgiving

Because of what God has already done for you

– NOT what you hope He will do in the future –

Then you can be sure that the message

You are responding to is the one

The Master delivered 2,000 years ago.

Here is another way to put this: Ask yourself, “Do I do what I do for my own gain?  Or for the Savior’s glory?”  To be sure, God has promised to meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), but there are two things we must remember.

First, we must never define “wants” as “needs” – and we all have a natural tendency to do just that.

Second, we must always remember that God will meet our needs in His time, in His way, and for His glory.  And often the outcome won’t look anything like what we expected it to!

In closing, and I pray for a deep and abiding encouragement for your soul, regardless of where this message found you today.  God is God, and is worthy of all our praise, glory, honor, and obedience.  When what we do for God is done simply because we could not do otherwise, we can know for sure that we have not manipulated the Gospel message and that our heart is beating for nothing smaller than our Master.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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The Christian’s Call To Holiness

Grace For The Journey

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13Jan  How 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 have Jesus as Lord and Heaven as your home while living in open sin and remaining in love with the world.  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 can manifest tendency of thinking and living in the flesh (The Bible speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 where Paul discusses the difference between being spiritual and carnal and concludes by saying, “For you are still carnal, for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men,”) but God knows nothing of a “carnal Christian.”  The carnal Christian is like a unicorn walking around in an open field – it’s an impossibility.

The Call To Christian 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 states in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “Be holy for I am holy” where Leviticus 11:44 is referenced.

God has always

Had one goal

For His people

And it’s holiness.

The Bible emphasizes In Ephesians 2:10 the fact that God has before ordained that His people walk in a life pursuit of holiness.

Far too often people miss the point of the Levitical laws.  They turn them into a system of positives commands and negative prohibitions when in reality something far bigger is taking place.  For instance, God was not merely forbidding the Israelites from enjoying a good BBQ sandwich in the dietary laws; God 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.  Look at what the Bible says in Ephesians 3:1-3, “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 the Bible 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 about 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 this passage 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 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.  Look at how the Bible describes this process in Ephesians 4:22-24, “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 as a whole, 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 byproduct 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 fellow Christian out of love; It could come in form of church discipline (Matthew 18:15-20); and for the obstinate, God has more severe methods of correction (Hebrews 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.”

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.”

GraceForTheJourneyBottomOfPagePicture

 

The Problem Only Jesus Can Solve

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10Jan  In any effort to solve problems, we are unlikely to agree as to what the solution of a problem is, unless we agree as to the nature of the problem.  The religions of the world offer an enormous range of solutions to human problems.

  • Some propose various forms of religious self-help exercises;
  • Some advocate a kind of faithful fatalism;
  • Others urge tapping into an impersonal energy or force in the universe;
  • Still others claim that mystical experiences are available to those who pursue them.

One of the critical questions to ask is this:

What constitutes

The irreducible heart

Of human problems?

The Bible insists that the heart of all human problems is rebellion against the God who is our Maker, whose image we bear, and whose rule we seek to overthrow.

All of our problems, without exception, c

Can be traced to this fundamental source:

Our rebellion and the just judgement of God

That we have received by our rebellion.

This must not be misunderstood in some simplistic sense.  Someone has rightly said, “It is not necessarily the case that the greatest rebels in this world suffer the greatest pain in this world, on some simple tit-for-tat scheme.”  But whether we are perpetrators (as in hate, jealousy, lust, or theft) or victims (as in rape, battery, or indiscriminate bombings), our plight is tied to sin – ours or that of others.  Further, whether our misery is the result of explicit human sin or the fruit of a “natural” disaster, Genesis 3 and Romans 8:18-23 insists that this is a disordered world, a broken world – and that this state of affairs has come about because of human rebellion.

God’s two-fold judgment on the Adam and Eve sin is striking. The first (Genesis 3:16), which promises pain in childbearing and disordered marriages, is the disruption of the first designated task human beings were assigned before the Fall: male and female, in the blessing of God, being fruitful and increasing in number (1:27-28).  The second (Genesis 3:17-19), which promises painful toil, a disordered ecology, and certain death, is the disruption of the second designated task human beings were assigned before the Fall: God’s image-bearers ruling over the created order and living in harmony with it (1:28-30).

With perfect justice God might have destroyed these first rebels.  He can no more ignore such rebellion than He can deny His own deity.  Yet, in mercy He clothes them, suspends part of the sentence (death itself) – and foretells a time when the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent who led the first couple astray.  One reads Revelation 12 with relief, and grasps that Genesis 3 defines the problem that only Christ can solve.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Six Ways to Jump-Start Your Spiritual Life

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme
9JanIt happened just after the end of the college football playoff game between Georgia and Oklahoma.  As the two teams exited the field, after Georgia defeated Oklahoma in a thrilling double-overtime victory, one of the Georgia players spotted the Oklahoma quarterback and shouted those two words at him: “Humble yourself!”  It was unique enough that the video clip spread across the internet.  You can hear lots of things after a football game, but you will rarely hear anyone shout, “Humble yourself!”

It remains good advice for all of us.  Someone has said, “If pride is the first sin, then humility is the first virtue.”  Years ago . . .

I learned

The First Rule

Of the Spiritual Life:

He’s God

And we’re not.

All spiritual growth starts with this truth.  Until you grasp what it means, you are still in spiritual kindergarten.

James 4:6-10 explains out what it means to humble yourself in the eyes of the Lord.  In this passage we discover six steps that unlock the path of God’s blessing for his children.

  • Would you like to know God better? Humble yourself!
  • Would you like to receive God’s approval? Humble yourself!
  • Would you like to break through to victory? Humble yourself!
  • Would you like a closer walk with God in 2020?

Well then … Let’s look at these verses because it will help you jump-start your spiritual life.

# 1: Take a Knee.

The Bible says in James 4:6-7a, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, ‘God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.’  Therefore, submit to God.”  Humility doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  It’s the virtue which, if you think you have it, you probably don’t.  D. L. Moody used to pray, “Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.”

No one likes being told what to do.  We would rather be in charge of our own life, and that’s why the whole notion of surrendering our pride to the Lord sounds strange at first.  But . . .

  • There is no other way to get better.
  • There is no other way to be healed.
  • There is no other way to be forgiven.
  • There is no other way to find a new life.

We can fight the Lord,

Or we can surrender

Everything to His control.

When we fight, we lose.

When we surrender in faith, we win.

A missionary saw this sign painted on the side of a bus in Nigeria: “Man no be God.”  That sums it up, doesn’t it?  You aren’t God, you never were, and you never will be.  Start there, and you’ll be on the right path.

 Humility grows best in the rich soil of God’s grace.

Don’t pray for

More humility;

Pray for

More grace.

Pray that God will

Pour out His grace

In your heart

So that you

Will only boast

In the Lord.

The proud man must constantly remind you how great he is.  He brags because he wants you to praise him.  But if you have to tell me how great you are, how great could you possibly be?  The braggart brags because he’s trying to convince you (and himself) of how great he is. The humble man doesn’t brag because the truth speaks for itself.  He leaves his reputation in the Lord’s hands because it doesn’t matter to him what others think.  He wants God’s reputation to become great in the land.  What happens to him doesn’t matter as long as the Lord’s cause goes forward.

Walking in humility means you confess your sins, you forgive your enemies, you admit your mistakes, and you don’t brag about how great you are.  It also means you serve others with a smile, not with a frown.

“God opposes the proud” – Don’t let that happen to you . . . “But gives grace to the humble” – So pray for the grace you need.

Take a knee . . . You’ll be glad you did.

# 2: Fight Back.

The Bible says in James 4:7b. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  This is both a command and a promise.  If we submit to God, we may be sure that when we resist the devil, he will flee from us.

We have no power

In ourselves

Against the devil,

But

He has no power

To use against us

When we fight

With God’s power.

By ourselves, we can’t win;

With God’s help, we can’t lose.

The word “resist” is a military term.  It means you stand and fight. You don’t run away.

We are to flee temptation,

But

We are to fight the devil.

That means taking up the armor of God and standing in the evil day (Ephesians 6:10-17).  Satan is like a football coach studying the opposing team.  He has “game film” on us, he knows our weaknesses and our strengths, and he uses what he knows against us.  If he can get you discouraged, he’s already won the battle.  He knows when you lose your temper.  Satan isn’t equal to God, but he’s a lot smarter than you or me.

Don’t be surprised when he hits you out of the blue. Fight back!

Don’t be surprised when he comes to you with a seductive temptation. Fight back!

Don’t be surprised when he whispers in your ear in a moment of weakness. Fight back!  The devil is a murderer by nature (John 8:44).  He will destroy your career, your marriage, your family, and your ministry if you let him.  You’ve got to stand and fight.

  • Fight back with the Word of God.
  • Fight back by singing great hymns.
  • Fight back by praying to Jesus.
  • Fight back by leaning on your brothers and sisters.
  • Fight back by confessing Christ openly.
  • Fight back by coming to the Lord’s Table.
  • Fight back by fleeing every temptation.
  • Stand and fight, child of God! Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

# 3: Draw Near.

The Bible says in James 4:8a, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

The question is not,

How near is God to us,

But rather

How near are we to Him?

Every married couple understands that proximity is one thing, but intimacy is something else.  A couple may be seated on the same couch but be miles apart from each other.  They may sleep together but not share the same bed spiritually.  It is quite possible to be married and live entirely separate lives.

 Drawing near to God

 Starts in the heart.

Take another married couple and watch them for a moment.  She may be knitting or playing the piano.  He may be reading a book or listening to her play the piano.  Minutes may pass without a word being spoken, but they are happy together.  He has drawn near to her, and she has drawn near to him.

If we come to God with that same desire to know him, He will draw near to us.  You do not need to be an advanced Christian, or a super-saint, or a deep Bible student.  The newest saint and the weakest believer may know God’s presence.  Years ago I heard the question put this way, “If God feels far away from you, who moved?”  It’s never the Lord.  We may know His presence and feel His pleasure if we truly want it.  He will draw near to you if you draw near to Him.

# 4: Clean Up.

The Bible says in James 4:8b, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  We must cleanse our hands because they are dirty with sin.  We must purify our hearts because they are divided, and we are distracted.

This means we stop making excuses for . . .

  • Bad attitudes,
  • Casual unkindness,
  • Clever put-downs,
  • Dabbling in pornography,
  • Bragging about our accomplishments,
  • Envy of others,
  • Bitterness,
  • A critical spirit,
  • Prayerlessness,
  • Our need to be in control,
  • Giving in to despair,
  • Hating our enemies instead of loving them,
  • And for our failure to do what we ought to do.

Here’s a useful way to apply this truth.  Take some time to get alone with God. Pray this simple prayer: “Lord, show me the truth about myself.”  Then write down what the Lord shows you.  In my experience, you can’t do this in ten minutes, and you can’t do this when you are busy or in a hurry.  It takes time to open your heart to the Holy Spirit.  When I have done this, I have been appalled at what the Lord reveals to me about my own heart, but then I am glad for the cleansing that comes from confession and repentance.

The Bible gives us a wonderful promise in Hosea 10:12, “Sow to yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, tile He comes and rains righteousness on you.”  Plowing is hard work because it means digging up the rocks and pulling the weeds that keep the good fruit from growing.  But if we by God’s grace do the hard thing, the Lord promises to send the rain that produces a new life with new joy and fresh fruit from heaven.

# 5: Get Serious

The Bible says in James 4:9, “Lament and mourn and weep!  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”  What God is saying does not sound like the typical sermon that we hear preached today.  It doesn’t sound like “God’s best for your life now,” and it doesn’t sound like “the that wins.”  In fact, this verse runs counter to the “I want to be happy all the time” version of Christianity that is very popular in America today.

Some would consider this verse as out of place.

  • Be wretched – Who wants to be wretched?
  • Mourn – The exact opposite of “don’t worry, be happy.”
  • Weep – That’s a real downer.
  • If we laugh, we should stop it and start mourning.
  • If we have joy, turn it into gloom.

I’ll be the first to agree that this verse, stated this way, seems like a downer.  But let’s step back and ask ourselves what James means by all this.

Is he a kill-joy?  No, that is not what he is trying to be.  Is he a frowning Puritan? That’s not fair because the Puritans were supremely happy in God.

James wants us to get serious

About our relationship with God.

When theologian R. C. Sproul died in December 2017, Russell Pulliam wrote an assessment of his life in the Washington Post. He located Sproul’s huge influence in the fact that he believed in the theology of John Calvin.  That led to this sentence: “Sproul believed that we are more sinful than we usually think we are.”

That’s spot-on accurate, both as a statement of what Sproul believed and of the true American self-assessment.  Most people, even those who don’t go to church, would agree they are sinners. That is, no one’s perfect, we all make mistakes, and so on.  It’s not hard to get people to agree with that concept.

But the Bible goes much further.

It tells us that sin has infected every part of human life, that we are spiritually dead, spiritually blind, lost, separated from God, and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2).  The Bible reveals the solemn truth that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).  We have all missed the mark.  The whole human race is lost, broken, dead, blind, deaf to God’s truth, in a state of perpetual rebellion, and so separated from God that we are under His wrath, and bound for eternal punishment in hell.

That’s what God says

About the whole human race.

That’s God’s verdict on you and me.

If you don’t believe that, or if you think that’s too harsh, or if you can’t handle the truth, then this verse will make no sense to you.

It all depends on how messed up you think you are.

Small sinners need a small Savior.

Moderate sinners need a moderate Savior.

Big time sinners need a big time Savior.

We are all big time sinners!

Once we see our sin as it really is, we will see ourselves as wretched and mourn and weep.  We’ll stop laughing and start crying.  We’ll let our joy be turned to mourning.  And that opens the door to the abundant life we all seek. This promise comes true whenever we decide to take God seriously.

# 6: Stay Low

The Bible says in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”  I heard Dr. Jimmy Draper talk about some advice he sought from Dr. Howard Hendricks when he was being considered for the pastorate of First Baptist Dallas, Texas.  Dr. Hendricks’ reply was simple: “Lie low and exalt Christ.”

That’s a good word for all of us.  We can brag on ourselves, or we can exalt Christ, but we can’t do both at the same time.  That sentence stands as a powerful admonition for every Christian.  It is great advice because it describes two choices.

You can exalt yourself,

Or you can exalt Christ,

But you can’t do both.

When we decide to lie low and exalt Christ, there is no limit to what the Lord may choose to do through us.

I began this blog by talking about one football player who shouted at another football player, “Humble yourself!”  What he said to his rival, God says to us. His message is crystal clear.

We can be blessed, but we must humble ourselves.

We can change, but we must humble ourselves.

We can experience the abundant life, but we must humble ourselves.

In the early days of 2020, many of us are thinking about how we can get a fresh start and make a new beginning.  James 4:6-10 shows us the path that will jumpstart your spiritual life. In the Kingdom of God, the way up is down.  If you humble yourself, the Lord will raise you up.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Do I Make Resolutions For My Sake Or God’s?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

3Jan  I’ve gained a few pounds over the holidays.  With all the delicious food and candies put before me between Thanksgiving and Christmas it was not hard to do.  My face is a bit fuller and my clothes are a bit tighter.  It’s time to take action.  So what is the popular thing to do?  Make a New Year’s resolution.  Whether you have ever made one or not, everyone knows someone who has.

  • We resolve to stop procrastinating.
  • We resolve to get out of debt.
  • We resolve to eat right/lose weight/exercise.
  • We resolve to read our Bible and pray everyday.
  • We resolve to do something designed to help us better ourselves by creating good habits or overcoming bad ones.

As I pondered my resume exercising and eating right, I was convicted about how I had framed the situation in my mind.  There were two problems.  First . . .

I had an unbiblical view of the problem.

Second . . .

I had an unbiblical motive for fixing it.

As I explain what I mean, I encourage you to look at your own life to see if you have made the same errors I did.

My unbiblical view of my problem is tied to the human tendency to minimize the seriousness of sin.  Rather than seeing my overeating as disobedience and sin, I downgraded it to the status of a bad habit.  We do this all the time.  We take things that the Bible calls sin and we sanctify them and dress them up so that they look more like a simple problem.

One major problem with this is that . . .

We view our bad habit primarily

As something that is

Holding us back rather than

Something that is

An offense against

The holiness of God.

With that view comes a certain lack of urgency in addressing the problem.

That is why so many people

Convince themselves that

They can wait until January 1

To break the “habit.”

But if we viewed

The situation as sin,

Then there is

A sense of urgency

Because to wait

Until January 1

Is to compound

The offense against God.

My sin, gluttony, has become what some might call an acceptable sin.  “Everybody does it,” especially during the holidays.  We joke about it.  We accept it as a weakness to overcome.  We don’t confront it in ourselves and we certainly don’t confront it in others.

But what does the Bible say?  In Deuteronomy 21:18-20, the rebellious son is referred as “a glutton and a drunkard.”  Proverbs 23:20-21 tells us, “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”

Ezekiel 16:49 describes the sin of Sodom: “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

Gluttony is not a bad habit . . . It is sin.

Is there something in your life

That you have downgraded

To the status of a bad habit,

But that God has declared to be sin?

If so, we shouldn’t think of

A New Year’s resolution

As an adequate solution.

Rather we should address

The sin with repentance and obedience.

So, my first mistake was having an unbiblical view of the problem.

My second mistake was having an unbiblical motive for fixing it.  What was my motive for resolving to exercise and eat right? To look better and feel better about myself.  In other words . . .

My own pride

Was what moved me

To do something

About my weight.

I wanted to better myself.

This, of course, is the natural motive when I have first convinced myself that my problem was a bad habit rather than a sin.  If what I am doing is not regarded as an offense to God, then I am free to see my breaking this bad habit as doing something to better myself.  It is completely self-centered.  The gluttony was self-centered in that it was born out of a desire to please my own flesh, and the solution to that problem was self-centered because it was born out of a desire to please my own pride.

When I have an unbiblical view of my problem

And an unbiblical motive for fixing it,

Both are disobedient and dishonoring to God.

Both the problem and the solution are sin.

So, what is the appropriate motive for addressing the issue?

A desire to glorify God.

God saved us so that we would

Be holy and blameless

Before Him for His glory

(Ephesians 1:3-14.)

My motive for addressing sin in my life should be so that I will be sanctified in my behavior, becoming holy and blameless so as to glorify God.  The concept of bettering myself is nowhere in the picture.

Many Christians will resolve to improve their devotional life this year.  That is a worthy goal  They should understand that to not spend time in God’s Word and in prayer is sin since we are commanded to do both (Ephesians 6:17-18; Philippians 2:14-16; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Hebrews 5:11-14).  The proper motive, rather than being a desire to feel good about ourselves, is the desire to be obedient and glorify God.

Any New Year’s resolution intended to address something that the Bible calls sin should be discarded and replaced with a biblical view of the problem and biblical motive for change.   It is not an issue of bettering oneself.  It is an issue of obedience.  Whether your sin is literal gluttony or “spiritual anorexia” (no devotional life) or anything else, there should be a sense of urgency that will not allow us to wait until  January 1 to act, and there should be a conviction that will not allow us to stop on January 3.

Let’s not downgrade our sin and let’s not make our own benefit the highest reason to address our sin. May the glory of God be our supreme motive for all that we do.

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Our Role In Revival By Addition Or Subtraction

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

2JaN  I don’t know any Christians who don’t want revival.  We would all like see God “revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You.”  (Psalm 85:6).  But what happens when genuine, God-sent revival occurs?  Many times what happens is much different than we think.   I believe God adds some things and takes away some things.  The title for today’s blog came from a joke I heard some time ago that went something like this:

Two pastors were exchanging the latest news. One said, “Did you hear about the revival we had at our church?”  “No,” replied the other pastor. “How many new members did you add to your rolls?”  “None,” the first pastor exclaimed, “but we had some very helpful and necessary subtractions!”

Here is a word of exhortation for us all.

If we ever find ourselves in the midst of a revival,

Let’s make sure we are on the side of addition and not subtraction!

The book of Acts shows us that the early church was marked by both kinds of “revival,” as the Sovereign Lord both added to and subtracted from His church.

You might remember the account as told in the Book of Acts where 3,000 souls were added to the church (Acts 2:41), and then latter 5,000 more (Acts 4:4).  What a revival that must have been!  But we must never overlook the growth of the church that took place by divine subtraction also.  In Acts 5:12-11 we read about Ananias and Sapphira, who came under the divine discipline of the Almighty and were removed from the church.

Revival isn’t a matter of collective church growth only; it begins in the heart of the believer.  We can start our own revival by adding something to our personal walk with Christ or by subtracting something.  Here are a few examples of some good things to add that can strengthen our walk with Christ:

  • Daily devotional time.
  • Consistent prayer.
  • Regular church attendance.
  • Volunteer for an outreach or ministry project.
  • Join a small Bible study group.
  • Regular resting in Jesus.
  • Go on a mission trip.
  • Share Jesus with those you know.
  • Daily exercising you faith.
  • Growing in your faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

Here are a few things that are good to subtract that just might be hindering our walk with Christ:

  • Television time.
  • Internet time.
  • FaceBook Time.
  • Burning the candle at both ends.
  • Spending more than we make.

There may be several other things you can identify to add or subtract in your own life. Take some time to consider just how God would have you start your own revival in your life.  You can be certain of two things: it will be for your ultimate good and bring ultimate glory to God!  Let’s be open to what God wants to do in our lives this coming year that will answer our longing for God to “revive us again . . . “

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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