Vision in the Valley of Dry Bones

Grace For The Journey

 

8Jun  Today we’ll look at a portion of Scripture that is a source of great comfort and encouragement for anyone who is struggling with anything.

The Bible says in Ezekiel 37:1-10, “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’  I said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.’  Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’  So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.  Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.”

For far too many today, life is being lived in a valley of dry bones, very dry bones.

  • A career that once held great promise has careened out of control because of addiction.
  • A marriage that started in a magical world has ended up in a world of misery because of self-centeredness.
  • A ministry of service that began building a monument to the glory of God has come crashing down in the ruins of everything a man once stood for.

Countless careers, marriages, and ministries have become nothing more than a valley of dry bones, very dry bones.

The prophet Ezekiel gives us a wonderful word of comfort and encouragement . . . no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in today.

The first vision given to the prophet was not a pretty sight “I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley.”  Dry, dead bones were scattered everywhere.

On the heels of this desolate picture of death we have the rhetorical question asked by our omnipotent God, “Can these bones live?”  The answer we all must give, of course, is a resounding “YES,” for it is God asking the question and it is God who will breathe life into them.  And God will breathe life into whatever area of your life is on “life support” right now.

  • He will breathe new life into your struggling career.
  • He will breathe new life into your strained marriage.
  • God will breathe new life into your misaligned ministry of service to Him.

The second vision given to Ezekiel was a powerful sight, “The bones came together, bone to bone!”  As of yet, however, there was no breath in them.  Imagine what was running through the mind of the prophet when he heard the rattling sound of those dead dry bones coming together, attached by tendons, and being covered by flesh and skin!

But the vision did not stop there, because in spite of the miracle of putting the bodies back together again, there was still no life.  So God took Ezekiel deeper in to his vision. God told him to prophesy and breath will enter them.  Guess what?  It did!

From his first vision of being surrounded by nothing but dead, dry bones, the prophet now found himself standing in the midst of “a vast army” that God assembled right before his eyes.

Funny thing about God . . .

He seems to enjoy bringing life out of death.

  • He brought life to dead Adam with a breath in his nostrils.
  • He brought life to these dead dry bones.
  • He brought life to Lazarus in the tomb.
  • He brought life to Peter after his denial of the Lord by giving to him a new vision of feeding God’s people.
  • He brought life to Saul on the road to Damascus – Saul, who was dead in his trespasses and sins – and turned him into the apostle Paul.

And God can bring life to you and anything you are facing today that is either on “life-support” or already dead.  You have His Word on it!  Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  Now you need only to catch His vision in whatever valley of dry bones you are facing today . . . and watch Him work!

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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Loving the Unloveable

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

  When we read through the Bible, it seems remarkable – perhaps even incomprehensible – how God sets His love, time and time again, upon those we would call the unlovable.  He set His love upon people whom society had no interest in . . . and He did it to show us what a Gospel-saturated love is to look like.

The Bible says in Matthew 9:9-13, 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 got up and followed Him.  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 His disciples.   And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’  When Jesus heart that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  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.’”

The term “tax collector” wasn’t simply a title for a job; it was a label of the utmost judgment.  “Hated” and “despised” are two words that best describe the tax collectors of Christ’s day, and that is what Matthew was: a hated and despised tax collector.  Israel’s Roman conquerors had hired Jewish men to collect taxes and gave these men the authority to keep anything they collected over and above the money that was due to Rome. So the tax collector was not only working for the hated Roman invader, who held his people in bondage; he added insult to injury by collecting more than he needed – lining his pockets at the expense of his own people!

To say that the tax collector was viewed as a scoundrel is an understatement!

His neighbors would have seen him as a traitorous villain.

Jesus was well aware just how much the people despised Matthew.  Jesus used tax collectors as examples of “the lowest form of life” on more than one occasion, such as the time He delivered this stinging rebuke to the Jewish elders and chief priests: “Verily, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.”  (Matthew 21:31).  By equating tax collectors with prostitutes, Jesus was simply acknowledging what was a widely held opinion.

And yet in spite all this, Jesus called Matthew to “Follow Me!”  He even went to Matthew’s house to eat with him, a sign of friendship and intimacy.  Christ knew the condemnation that would greet His decision to pour love out on the unlovable, but He never hesitated.  He had come for sick sinners who desperately needed a doctor . . . the Great Physician had arrived to pour out His love on those who were “kicked to the curb,” so to speak.  When was the last time you felt like that?

Jesus came for people like the tax collector, the prostitute, the immoral, the beggars, the blind, the crippled, the sinners, and even self-righteous Pharisees . . . people just like you and me!

We all have one thing in common with Matthew,

Which is that we are all sinners

In desperate need of a Savior.

We can try to save ourselves or we can trust in

The only Savior of the world: the Lord Jesus Christ.

As for me and my house,

We have chosen the Savior of the world!

You remember the rest of Matthew’s story, don’t you?  The hated tax collector became one of the twelve apostles and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave us the very first book of the New Testament.

You see, it doesn’t matter where Jesus finds you – whether you’re in the pit or in a palace.  It only matters whether or not you heed His call to follow Him, regardless of where He leads you.

Matthew knew full well what everyone else thought of him; but he heard the call, got up, and followed Jesus.  In keeping his focus on Jesus, Matthew never let the opinion of others derail his divine destiny.

What about you today?  When you get right down to it, we are all like tax collectors – our sin makes us ugly and unlovable – yet we all have a willing Savior who is ready to pour our His love on one who is so unlovable.

One last question: Are we willing to do the same to others?  Jesus said in Matthew 10:8, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  Will you share Christ’s love with those who need a healing touch from the Great Physician?

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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Tug-Of-War

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

6Jun

We have all heard of tug-of-war, and most of us have played it.  It is a contest that pits two teams against each other in a test of physical strength and endurance.  When I was in College, a group of my friends and I entered into a tug-of-War competition called the “Tug-a-Ton!”  Each team was allowed up to but not exceeding 2000 pounds of total man weight on their side of the rope.  You could have as many men as you wanted on your team as long as the total weight of all the men combined did not exceed a ton (2000 lbs).

I will never forget the team we lost to in the finals.  After a long day of tugging on the rope, everyone’s hands and forearms were pretty well tired and aching from all the straining and pulling.  The team we were up against came out for the championship match wearing special “lobster” gloves for a better grip on the rope.  The gloves were allowed, but we were too proud to wear gloves.  We fought hard for nearly ten minutes, but in the end we were pulled across the center line and into second place.

So the term “tug-of-war” can describe a demonstration of brute strength by two opposing teams, such as a rivalry between two teams.  Today, I want to employ a metaphorical use “tug-of-war” to describe the battle going on daily inside the heart of every Christian believer – a-tug-of-war between the sinful nature and the Spirit of Christ.  The Bible describes it perfectly in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh (our sinful nature) lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

Like two opposing teams straining at their side of the rope, the sinful nature is at war against the Spirit, and the Spirit is fighting against the sinful nature.  The Bible makes this truth crystal clear.  In  his book The Gospel For Real Life, Jerry Bridges writes, “We must acknowledge this tension if we are to make progress in the Christian life. Indwelling sin is like a disease that we can’t begin to deal with until we acknowledge its presence.  But in the case of sin, we must also count on the fact that, though it still resides in us, it no longer has to have dominion over us.”

Sin remains . . .

But it no longer reigns.

Jesus reigns, and the grace that He poured into your life when you were saved is the same grace that He continually pours into your life as He is sanctifying you.  Sin is no longer our master.  The Bible states that in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Jesus is our Master,

And it is His Holy Spirit

Who has power and control over us.

It is the grace of the Gospel that empowers us to keep on pulling, even when we have fallen into the dirt time and time again and feel like we have no strength left to pull. When we are weak, we are strong because of the One who is on our side.  In knowing that Jesus will never take His hands off of our side of the rope, regardless of how often we slip or let go altogether, we find the strength to keep fighting the good fight.

You see, for the Christian, the One really pulling on our side of the rope is Jesus.

  • It is His hands.
  • It is His strength.
  • It is His grace.

And Jesus has never lost a match!

He’ll pull us across the center line and into the winner’s circle!

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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He is So Precious to Me

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

5June  I fondly remember singing a wonderful hymn in my youth with the title, “He is So Precious to Me.”   The first verse and chorus go like this:

 So precious is Jesus, my Savior, my King,

  His praise all the day long with rapture I sing.

To Him in my weakness for strength I can cling,

  For He is so precious to me.

For He is so precious to me,

  For He is so precious to me.

’Tis heaven below, my Redeemer to know,

  For He is so precious to me.

That hymn is based on 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious.”

 Christ is precious to all who know Him.

The word “precious” means “highly valued or esteemed.”  It is an apt term to describe how believers think about their Savior and Lord.

Peter loved to use the word “precious” in his epistles.  J. Vernon McGee comments: “I think it is so interesting that Simon Peter, the big, rugged fisherman, uses the word precious. We think of it as a word used in the vocabulary of women, but whenever Peter speaks of Christ or of His blood or any part about Him, he uses the word precious.”

Peter uses this word in the following ways . . . He speaks of . . .

  • Precious Trials – “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes” (1 Peter 1:7).
  • Precious Blood – “Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
  • Precious Corner Stone – “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, chosen of God, and precious… a chief corner stone, elect, precious” (1 Peter 2:4, 6).
  • Precious Faith – “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).
  • Precious Promises – “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 2 4, that . . .

God the Father regards His Son as precious (1 Peter 2:4)

And so do believers (1 Peter 2:7).

The world may not rightly value the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Father and those who have been saved by Him do!

Our estimation of Christ is the same as that of the Father’s.

He is precious beyond calculation!

One writer says, “Our estimation of other objects is often governed by public opinion, but we must appreciate Christ, not by what men think of him, but by what he is in the account of God… and if we are of God, we shall be of God’s mind; he that is precious to God will be so to us.”  People and things are said to be precious to us; yet, how much more precious to us should things of a spiritual nature be.

We need to ask ourselves . . .

Is the Lord Jesus precious to me?

What is my estimation of Him?

Do I view Jesus like the men of the world who reject Him . . .

Or do I view Jesus like God does, who regards Him as precious?

We have every reason to regard him as precious!

  • He is good and gracious;
  • His blood atones for our sins;
  • He gives us eternal life;
  • Hhe cares for us and bids us to cast our cares upon Him!

Matthew Henry said, “Jesus Christ is exceedingly precious to all the faithful.  The majesty and grandeur of his person, the dignity of his office, his near relation, his wonderful works, his immense love – everything engages the faithful to the highest esteem and respect for Jesus Christ.”

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has popularized an expression that is relevant to 1 Peter 2:7.  It comes from the lips of Gollum, formerly known as Smeagol.  He was desperate to have the ring which was once in his possession.  He continually refers to it as, “my precious.”  The ring consumed him.  It was the most valuable thing to him but it led to his destruction.

There are many people like Gollum today.  Their eye is fixed on some material thing and they are ever thinking, “My precious; my precious.”

But there is no one dearer and more precious than the Lord Jesus Christ.

He who acknowledges that Christ is precious and turns to Him will be saved.

The greatest treasure of all is Christ.

He is the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).

Get rid of everything else

In your affections

And

Esteem Him as precious!

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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Redeemed and Reckless

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

4Jun  The dictionary defines “reckless” as “utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless.”  Some antonyms for reckless are prudent, cautious, and calculating.

Which group of definition best describes your Christian life right now?

Are you reckless for your Redeemer . . . or cautious and calculating?

Many Christians today are far from living recklessly for their Redeemer.  They like to play it safe and live inside well-established zones of comfort.  They play it safe with their time, talent, and treasure, living only a portion of the life God is calling them to live.

They are sold-out for comfort

Rather than Christ.

Those who are redeemed and reckless are easy to spot, because their lives don’t seem to make sense – not just to unbelievers but to Christians also.  They do things for Jesus that most can’t even imagine doing.  They worship openly.  They serve whole-heartedly.  They give generously.  And they do all this without any thought of what they will receive in return.  That’s because . . .

They don’t do what they do for a return;

They are living out their unqualified,

Unquestioning love for their Redeemer.

This is reckless living, and it is the life Christ has called each of us to live!  In Mark 12:28-30, when asked what is the most important commandment of all, that Jesus replied, “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.”

Let me say something that might not be received very well today – The reckless Christians I am speaking about – at least those who live in the United States – are not likely to rise to the level of commitment evidenced by the early Christians, or those today around the world, many of whom live in Muslim or Communist countries and are beaten, imprisoned, tortured, separated from their families – even killed for their faith.

The Bible commends the tenacious faith of such as these in Hebrews 11:35-38, “… (They) were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

If our reckless living for the Redeemer never rises to this level, may we who are living in relative comfort for Christ begin making decisions that will cause the watching world to sit up and take notice of our commitment.  Let them see us as the world once saw Abraham, Noah, Esther, John the Baptist, the twelve disciples, the first-century church, and countless others throughout the ages:

As ones who are recklessly, incautiously committed to our Redeemer!

This kind of full-commitment Christian living puts us in good company . . .

And puts our great and glorious God on display for all-the world to see!

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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Are We Serving God Leftovers?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

Here is a true story that sums up the condition of the heart of every child of God from time to time, reported by radio commentator Paul Harvey years ago . . .

The Butterball Turkey Company setup a telephone hotline to answer consumer questions about preparing holiday turkeys.  One woman called to inquire about cooking a turkey that had been in her freezer for 23 years.  The representative told her the turkey would be safe to eat, but did not recommend eating it because the flavor would have deteriorated.  The woman caller replied, “That’s what I thought.  Okay then, we’ll just give it to our church.”

Serving leftovers to family and friends can be one of the best things we can do.  When our family has our favorite Italian dish, it always seems to taste a little better served as a leftover.  This is true for a number of foods.  There really is nothing like home-made soup served again on the second day.  But there is nothing good about serving leftovers to God, which has become the norm for far too many Christians.  It is nothing less than idolatry.

Here are a few common leftovers.

  • We serve leftovers to God in our worship when we consistently show up late and pray for the preacher to “land the plane” so we can get on with our day.
  • We serve leftovers to God in our careers when we give less than our best effort, thinking, “Well, if this is all they pay, this is all they should expect!”
  • We serve leftovers to God in our relationships when we find more satisfaction in our relationships with others than we do in our relationship to God.

The menu of leftovers is all but endless.  Make no mistake, when we consistently remove God from first place in our lives, it is not long before He has virtually no place in our lives.

So . . . where in your life have you been serving leftovers to God?

The Bible provides several examples of the people of God offering Him leftovers.  None is more damning than the rebuke Malachi delivered to Israel’s priests.  They knew what the Law of Moses required for the animal sacrifices they offered to God.  All animal sacrifices were to be without spot or blemish, for two very good reasons.  First, God Himself is without spot or blemish.  And second, these unblemished animals were a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice that was to come in Jesus Christ.

So what did the priests do?  The right thing?  Or the convenient thing?  Listen to what the Bible says in Malachi 1:6-7, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master.  If then I am a father, where is my honor?  And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name.  But you say, “How have we despised your name?”  By offering polluted food upon my altar.  But you say, “How have we polluted you?”  By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised.  (Malachi 1:6-7)

The priests chose the way of convenience and decided to give God less than their best animals.  They gave Him their leftovers and kept the best for themselves.  Their goal was to make worship what they wanted worship to be: convenient, comfortable, and cost effective.  They were thinking, “Why not get rid of the animals we really don’t want anyway?  They’re just going to go up in smoke!”

And we do exactly the same thing today when we give God less than our best.  Designed by God for God, we are to make Him our first priority.

  • His purposes are to be our purposes.
  • His plans are to be our plans.
  • His passions are to be our passions.

This is how we make sure we are giving God our best . . . and not just our leftovers.  When God said He is a “jealous God,” He was making it clear that He would tolerate no rival.

He demands exclusivity,

And

That is exactly what He deserves –

Not so much for what He does for us,

But simply for who He is.

He is God, our Abba Father, and He is worthy of our absolute best.

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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I Have Met The Enemy…!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

31May  Many in the church mistakenly think their greatest problem is out there somewhere.  They think it is the environment . . . the culture . . . the government . . . the neighbors . . . the boss at the office . . . the list could go on and on.  I counsel many married men and women who are convinced that their greatest problem is located on the other side of the bed.  But the Bible has something altogether different to say about our enemy, and until we understand what is going on inside of us, there will be no measurable change outside of us.

The Bible says in Galatians 5:17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

The Bible makes it crystal clear that our enemy is not out there somewhere.  It lies within us, as the old man (the desires of the flesh) wages war with the new man (the desires of the Spirit).  Before Jesus came into our lives, we were content to honor the desires of the flesh, living to satisfy our sin nature.  But after we acknowledged our sin and asked Jesus to forgive us and come into our lives to be our Savior and Lord, the war began between the old nature and the new nature.

The enemy is not “out there.”

It is deep inside of us!

Our Lord warned in Matthew 15:18-20, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person.”

Jesus provided a penetrating and profound diagnosis

Of the root problem that lies deep

Within the soul of every one of us.

Years ago, a newspaper article invited readers all over the globe to answer the age-old question: “What’s wrong with the world?”  G.K. Chesterton, the great British writer and thinker responded succinctly, “I AM!”

He got it!

Do we?

It’s important to remember sin’s goal in this battle:

To separate us from God.

The Bible teaches that if we are a blood-bought, born again child of God, we cannot be taken out of His loving hand (John 10:28-30) . . . But we can be tipped over and buried under the weight of our sins.  Satan wants to do to us what he did to Adam and Eve – to make us believe that God cannot be trusted.  The devil brought Adam and Eve to an utterly insane conclusion:

That God – the One who created them . . . sustained them . . .

Gave them everything good . . . walked with them in the cool of the day

. . . Their loving Creator and Sovereign Lord – could not be trusted.

The devil tries to make us believe the same thing every day that we live.  The sad truth is that many Christians and churches are giving in to His subtle attempts.  Many today are surrendering to Satan’s grandest lie, “Has God really said . . .?”

Many . . .

Doubt what God has said,

Deny what He has said,

Disregard what He has said, and

Disobey what He has said in His Word.

This has led to disastrous results.

Every time we sin and give in to the desires of the flesh, we prove we doubt the goodness of our great God.  That is why we need to keep the truths of the Gospel before us moment by moment.  The truths of the Gospel give us the necessary motivation to keep getting up every time we stumble and fall, because we know we are secure in Jesus.

Ultimately the victory has already been won for us on Mount Calvary.  We just need to walk in that victory and go out in His name!

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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Being Influenced By God’s Word or Hollywood?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

30May  Never before in the history of the Christian faith have we seen so many churches working so hard . . .

To fit in with the surrounding culture,

Rather than stand out for Christ.

Not to be outdone by the culture, we’ve entered into competition with it, and by the looks of the scoreboard, we are losing.  The divorce rates are the same both in and out of the church.  Materialism has a choke hold on the Christian as much as it does on the culture.

The culture is changing the church.

We have been entrusted with the eternal

And

We have turned it into entertainment.

Our seeker-sensitive services entertain the senses but do not satisfy the soul.

Preaching to the felt needs of the “customers” we have wooed into the pews, we have watered down the whole counsel of God to the exclusion of sin, judgment, holiness, and the wrath of Almighty God.  More than twenty-five years ago, Francis Schaeffer rightly warned,

“The evangelical church has accommodated itself to the world around it.”

In doing so, we have become more “market-driven” than Master-directed.

The Christian community is being shaped more by Hollywood than by God’s Holy Word.  We hear more and more Christians saying . . .

“God’s desire for me is to be happy,”

Rather than

“God’s desire for me is to be obedient and holy.”

Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist minister of the Tabernacle Metropolitan Pulpit in London, aptly observed, “He who marries today’s fashion is tomorrow’s widow.”

Today’s church desperately needs countercultural Christians who refuse to be seduced, swerved, and shaped by Hollywood.  Someone has rightly said, “Faithfulness to Christ requires foreignness to the world’s trendy diversions.”  To be sure, there is a lot this world has to offer in the way of diversions – which are some of Satan’s sharpest weapons.

Let me ask you:

Is the character of your life being shaped more by Hollywood or God’s Holy Word?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:12, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”

We live in this world, but we are not to live like this world

Because we have received the Spirit of Christ.

We are to make an eternal difference in this world

Because we have been made eternally different.

The world doesn’t need more of this world; it needs more of the next!

No one will understand the things freely given us through the “teaching” of Hollywood, but only through the Holy Word of God – both professed and practiced by the people of God.  That is the teaching that will give this world desperately needs.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Practice Makes Progress . . . Not Perfect

Grace For The Journey

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Everyone who has been involved in sports, music, or other fields of interest like these, knows the importance of practice.  Contrary to the old homily, practice never makes perfect, but it certainly helps make progress!  There is an important principle regarding practice which coaches and instructors attempt to instill in the minds of their students:

The way we practice will determine how we perform in the actual contest.

An individual or team who practices in a lackadaisical manner will not suddenly transform into a focused, powerful champion when the actual game or performance begins.

What is true in the practice of sports, music, etc.  is also true in the practice of spirituality – what some have called “practicing the presence of God.”  The way we practice the presence of God will determine how we perform in the life God has called us to live.

Paul made this crystal clear when he wrote in Galatians 6:14, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Practicing the presence of God begins and ends at the cross.

It is at the cross that we find . . .

  • The meaning of life.
  • The message of life, and
  • The Master of life.

And because practice never makes perfect, we must continuously return to the foot of the cross, where grace renews us for practicing the presence of God.

So, what does it really look like when we are practicing the presence of God?  We are to “remind ourselves every day of the Gospel.”  This is the most important discipline in practicing the presence of God.  Sinners are the only ones in need of the Gospel.  So reminding ourselves every day of the Gospel continually reminds us of two incredibly important truths:

  1. We are sinners.  Even the good works that we do are so stained by our sin as to be nothing more than “a polluted garment” in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6).
  2. Our sins are forgiven.  When you practice the presence of God by reminding yourself daily of the Gospel, you reinforce this glorious truth – that God has removed our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

This gives you both the permission and the power to go on.

Only sinners who know they have been forgiven can continue practicing the presence of God, even in the presence of our own sin.

Practice was never intended to make perfect on

This side of the grave,

Only progress.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Memorial Day

Grace For The Journey

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28May Today Americans remember and pay tribute to all the men and women who paid the ultimate price to protect and defend our  freedom while in the service of our great nation.  Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, and was first observed on May 30 of that year, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  Memorial Day is now celebrated on the last Monday in May as an established time for our nation to honor those who gave their all for all of us.

There was another who gave His all for all of us;

His name is Jesus Christ.

He gave more than anyone could ever give

When He willingly and without reservation

Went to the cross on Mount Calvary

So that men and women would be set free

From sin, Satan, and the judgment to come.

The Bible declares this glorious truth in Romans 5:8-9, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

Whenever Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper, it is Memorial Day, for our Savior commanded us to “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Yet, every day should be a day of remembering

For all those who were bought with the precious blood of Jesus.

Every day is . . .

  • A time to remember the work of Christ, which was nothing less than an all-out assault against sin, Satan, and the judgment to come . . .
  • A time to remember the work of Christ for sinners who were desperately in need of rescue and totally incapable of rescuing ourselves . . .
  • A time to remember that every aspect of our existence is to be shaped by His claim on our lives.

Remembering what Christ has done for us provides us with the ultimate purpose

To go further up and further into the Gospel of grace.

Every thought, every desire, every word, and every deed is to be shaped by the cross and the empty tomb.  Vertically our lives should be marked by a sold-out love for God and horizontally they are to be marked by a sold-out love for others.

The grace we have received is designed to

Make us communicators and conduits of grace in the lives of others.

Along the way, the King who has sought us and bought us gets all the glory.

This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey

… Rest And Rejoice In The Wonderful Truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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