Walking With God By Faith

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

29Aug  Last week, in a couple of blogs, we looked into the Bible to see what it says about “walking with God.”  The Christian life (which the Bible describes in many places as “a journey/pilgrimage” or “a walk”) is lived by faith.  Biblical faith has both substance and evidence (Hebrews 11:1).  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:4 that Abel was accepted by God and saved when he exercised faith in the promises of God (substance) and obeyed what God said (evidence).  Salvation always has been and always will be only by the blood.  The Bible says in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” and the Bible says in Colossians 1:14, “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  Salvation is only by the blood and no one in this world can change that!

I want to continue our look at “walking with God” for a couple of days this week.  Today, I want us to look at Enoch and see how he gave evidence of his salvation by walking with God by faith.  According to Jude 14 the Bible shows us that Enoch’s walk with God not only produced a relationship with God but also life-truths that he and those living at that time needed to know about life and the future.

The Bible says nothing about Enoch’s first 65 years of life.  These years were his years of development where he made his choices concerning life and what it was all about.   Because that Bible tells us that Enoch walked with God, we know that he was brought up to know the Lord and at some point in his life placed his personal faith in the coming Promised Seed (Genesis 3:15).  God reminds us early on in His Word that life is so much more than just growing up, getting a job, getting married, raising a family, and retiring in ease.  Life is about whom you are, not just what you do. This life is the prelude for eternity!

Little is said about Enoch and, yet, we do know three things about Enoch’s life (or walk).

1) It had a Commencement.

It did not began at age 65 with the birth of Methuselah.  The Bible simply states that, “after the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years” (Genesis 5:21).  This does not mean that he did not walk with God the first 65!  I thank the Lord that I was saved early in life.  I began my walk with God with the support of a loving family and church members.  Through Christ’s presence and power, I have tried to be consistent over these years. I have not and will never be perfect, but I want my life to reflect the change that only the Lord can make.

When and where Enoch made the personal choice to walk with God is not stated but some where he made a choice to know God and let Him be all that He would have him to be.

2) It had a Consistency.

The Bible tells us in Genesis 5:22, “… Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.”  Enoch lived in very evil days that led up to the destruction of the world by the flood.  Days when men who were called the “sons of God” allowed their fleshly imagination to fulfill unholy desires through their sinful flesh.  Jesus compared the days that we live in “as in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:36-9).”  Yet, Enoch was able to live for the Lord!

3) It had a Conclusion.

After 365 years of life, with the majority of those years walking with God, God took Enoch home (Genesis 5:24).   This is a beautiful type of the Rapture where those who are “alive and remain (not dead)” will be “caught up” and be with the Lord eternally (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.  This should be the desire of every child of God and is our blessed hope.

So . . . What Characterizes A Walk With God?

1) It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of our sin and convinced of our need to know and accept Christ as Savior.

Through the Holy Spirit work, we acknowledge our sin, repent (or turn from) of that sin, accept Christ’s work of salvation on the cross and through the empty tomb, and ask Him to be our Savior and Lord (Acts 16:31).

2) It is through the Holy Spirit giving us the gift of faith that we obey and live for God.

This life is summoned up in Galatians 2:20, where the Bible says, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

3) It is by faith and obedience to God’s Word that we walk and stand for God.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:13, Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

4) It is by faith that we live, or walk, before God.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

5) It is by faith that we resist the devil.

The Bible says in Peter 5:8-9, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

7) It is by faith that we commune with God.

The Bible says in Ephesians 3:12, “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.”

8) It is by faith that we overcome the world.

The Bible says in 1 John 5:4, For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”

9) It is by faith that we please God.

The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

So … Where do you stand?  Are you living and standing on the substance of God’s Word and giving evidence of that truth by the life you are living?  Are you living, or walking, with God, by faith?  How would you answer Christ’s question in Luke 18:8b, Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?”

 The Word of God is vital to our walking with 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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Traveling Mercies

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

28AugWhen Christians hear the phrase “traveling mercies,” we usually think of the words we use when we ask God to protect and provide for those who are about to go on a journey.  But I’d like to share another picture of traveling mercies, one that we should understand and emulate.

The Bible says in Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”

The Traveling Mercies pictured in this verse is none other than the Lord Himself.  He was continually on a mission from His Father in heaven as He went around doing good.  Notice a few things in this wonderful picture of Traveling Mercies:

  1. Jesus did it Himself.

He went around doing good.  He did not send others to do His work; He did not send the angels or the apostles; He Himself went about doing good personally.  The incomparable Charles Spurgeon described it best, “NoOne but Jesus could carry out His errands of mercy.”  Jesus used His legs to walk.  He used His fingers to touch.  He used His eyes to see.  He used His voice to speak.  He used His ears to hear.  He used His heart to ache with compassion for those who were “weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).  What a wonderful example He has left for us, that we also might go around doing good personally with the passion of our Lord!

  1. Jesus went around.

He did not wait for the hurting to show up . . .

  • He went to the woman at the well.
  • He went to the lame at the pool.
  • He went to the sick in the bed.
  • He went to the dead in the tomb.
  • He went – even to His sacrificial death.

Nobody had to come looking for Him.  The Bible says in Luke 9:51, ““When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”  His face was set in determination to go and die for you and for me.

Difficulty did not deter Him, nor did danger.  He went personally to every object of His affection and mercy to do good.  (Luke 9:51).  What a wonderful example He has left for us, that we might go to those in need rather than waiting for them to seek us out!

Now, it is true that the Bible teaches us God does not need our good works, but it also teaches us that our neighbor does.  We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, for our benefit or to earn our salvation, but for His glory and for the benefit of all those we come in contact with who need a touch from God – and that’s everyone.

The truths of the Gospel should compel us to be continually engaged in traveling mercies, regardless of the cost or circumstance.  Because of what Jesus has already done for us (past grace), and all that He has promised He will do for us (future grace), our hearts should compel us to us up His traveling mercies!

  1. We see in Acts 10:38 that God was with Jesus throughout His “errands of mercy.”

And He has promised to do the same for us: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).

The Word of God is vital to our walking with 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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The School Supply Every Student Must Have

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

24Aug  Last week, students began returning to school and beginning a new school year.  The excitement and expectation of learning new things, the joy of moving “up a grade,” and the anticipation renewing friendship and even meeting new friends … and getting school supplies: backpack; notebooks and folders; protractors, compasses, and rulers; paper, pens, pencils (maybe even upgrade to a mechanical pencil!), highlighters and erasers.  At college or graduate school one needs to purchase assigned books and software; along with other specialized supplies.

Yet, as important and necessary as these items are they not the primary school supply one must have.  No . . .

The one supply each student must have

Is a teachable spirit.

Some students begin the academic year with a preconceived notion of what they will get out of a course, how fast they will go through classes in order to graduate quickly, or enter feeling entitled to A’s for just showing up with a pulse.  They don’t take notes in class, don’t take advantage of being mentored by faculty members, don’t participate in campus student life, and take “safe” classes that don’t challenge their existing presuppositions, practices, and prejudices.

It is important the students see school (whether it is elementary, high school, technical school, or college level and above) as a tool to help them be equipped for life.  Everything we learn and every skill we develop is intended to help us bring glory to God and help further His kingdom.  Many students, and even teachers and parents, miss this along the way.  But, God can use “school” to equip us properly for life if one does not possess a teachable spirit.

The book of Proverbs warns against an unteachable spirit:

“… How I have hated instruction!   And my heart despised correction!  I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!” Proverbs 5:12-13

“A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own mind.”  Proverbs 18:2

Proverbs 15:32 and 19:20 attest that a teachable spirit is a nonnegotiable requirement for wisdom.  You must be willing to permit God to mold and shape you – to equip you. You must be willing to surrender presuppositions and prejudices and, yes, even traditions.  Like Jacob, you must be willing to wrestle with God, or like Paul, to let God take your life plans and completely change them.

King David was teachable and King Saul was not – the hand of God was on one man, but from the other, His hand was removed.  Teachers should see themselves as instruments of God available to pour into students the riches of God’s way and their own spiritual journeys so as to optimally equip and prepare students for their life service I know public school teachers have to be careful with “separation of church and state,” but Christian teachers by their spirit, demeanor, and taking opportunities of “teachable moments” still have the right to live out their Christian faith).  This can only be accomplished if students possess a teachable spirit.

Students, don’t overlook the importance of a teachable spirit.  Your box is full of a myriad of experiences, presuppositions, spiritual experiences, and talents.  What will you let God draw, color, and create with you this year?  Are you willing to let Him have access to your box to allow Him to continue to create His masterpiece in you?

As we pray for our students during this academic year, pray Psalm 119:33-36 over them:

“Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall observe it to the end.  Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart.  Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.  Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain.

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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Walking With God In His Word, Part 2

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

22Aug  Genesis chapter three is best-known for the teaching of the Fall of man.  That certainly is an important subject, and one that I have dealt with regularly in my blog.  For the next several days I want to look a phrase that is mentioned in verses 8-9 that shows an expected pattern in the believer’s life.  In Genesis 3:8 the Bible says, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  This is the first mention of the phrase “the voice of the LORD God walking” in the Bible.  Adam and Eve did not see a physical presence of Jehovah God because He is Spirit, but they were able to hear and understand the “voice” or “word” of God.

Think about that for a moment.  What a marvelous truth – Walking with God and hearing His Word!   This was not a singular encounter of Adam and Eve walking with God; other references in Genesis 2-3 show us it was a something that took place on a regular basis.  I believe two books of the Apostle John help understand this principle.  In John 1:1, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah God, was and is the Word (John 1:1 – He is the visible and verbal declaration of God [Hebrews 1:2); in Revelation 19:13, the Bible shows us that the Lord Jesus still is and always will be the Word of God.

Today’s verse shows us that Adam and Eve knew God and had previously walked with Him.  As Adam and Eve walked with God, so we who are saved should also walk with Him.

Genesis 3:9-15 teach us that God loved Adam and Eve so much that He would not allow their sin to disrupt their relationship and walk with Him.  God restored fellowship through the shedding of blood.   This same biblical principle allows us, as sinners saved by grace, to walk with a thrice holy God.

Here is what I want us to see – We cannot walk with God without His Word and we must not walk contrary to His Word.  The big question becomes, “How do we walk with God in the Word?”  And I am glad you asked!  Let’s see what the Bible says about this . . .

1) We “walk with God” in the new birth through His Word.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:23, Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.

Here is where it all begins.

We cannot walk with God until we are born of God.

We cannot walk with God until we know Him through faith and repentance.

2) We “walk with God” in hearing His Word.

The Bible says in Romans 10:17, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Notice that there are two hearings here: the audible hearing of the Word of God and the inward hearing or listening to the Word of God.  We cannot walk with God when His Word falls on “deaf ears.”

3) We “walk with God” in reading and growing in His Word.

1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

We cannot walk with God in His Word unless we spend time in the Bible.  Picking it up and dusting it off for church on Sunday does not strengthen our relationship with God.

4)  We “walk with God” in trusting His Word.

The Bible says in Psalms 119:127-128, Therefore I love Your commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.  Therefore I esteem all Your precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

Since we cannot see or audibly hear God, we MUST trust the Word of God.  Since all that we comprehend about God is found in the Bible, we cannot “cherry pick” which verses that we trust.  Walking with God is trusting God.

5) We “walk with God” in meditating upon His Word.

The Bible says in Joshua 1:8, This book of the law shall not depart out of Your mouth; but You shall meditate therein day and night, that You may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then You shall make You way prosperous, and then You shall have good success.

Meditating upon God’s Word helps us internalize God’s truth and allow it to become a consistent part of our daily life with God.  Walking with God in His Word comes through deliberating or pondering upon it.

6) We “walk with God” in studying God’s Word.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15, Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.

Walking with God in His Word is based upon proper understanding it.  The Bible tells us God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).  The Bible is our foundation upon which we build our lives.

7) We “walk with God” in obedience to His Word.

The Bible says in James 1:22, But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

When we walk with God in His Word it involves both hearing, applying, and obediently living by biblical truths.  The Bible sets Christian parameters for holiness and righteousness of life.

8) We “walk with God” in sharing God’s Word.

The Bible says in Mark 16:15, And He said unto them, Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’”

The Lord is not willing that any should perish.  His will is that “all men be saved” and come to the knowledge of the truth.  God so loved that He gave His life for sinners.  If we walk with Him, we will be soul conscious and souls winners.

The Word of God is vital to our walking with 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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What Does It Mean To Walk With God?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

22Aug  There are several people described as “walking with God” in the Bible, beginning with Enoch in Genesis 5:24.  Noah is also described as “a just man, blameless in his generation.  Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).  Micah 6:8 gives us a glimpse into God’s desire for us: “He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  

Walking with God is not an activity reserved for a select few.

God desires all of His children to walk with Him.

What happens when we walk with someone?  Imagine that you and a close friend are enjoying a walk down a country lane.  You are in close proximity.  You talk, laugh, listen, and share your hearts.  Your attention is focused on this person to the exclusion of almost everything else.  You notice the beauty around you or an occasional distraction, but only to point it out to your companion.  You share it together.  You are in harmony, and you both enjoy the peaceful camaraderie.

Walking with God is like that.  When we enter into an intimate heart relationship with God through faith in His Son (Hebrews 10:22) . . .

He becomes our heart’s greatest desire.

Knowing Him,

Hearing His Voice,

Sharing our hearts with Him,

And

Seeking to please Him become our all-consuming focus.

He becomes everything to us.

Meeting with Him is not an activity reserved for Sunday morning.  We live to fellowship with Him.  A. W. Tozer states that the goal of every Christian should be to “live in a state of unbroken worship.”  This is only possible when we walk with God.

Just as walking with a close friend requires saying “no” to many other things, so walking with God requires letting go of anything that would be a distraction.  If you were on a walk with a friend, but you brought a kazoo and played it the whole time, the walk would not be satisfying for either of you.  Many people attempt to walk with God, but they bring along kazoo-like habits, sins, worldly entertainments, or unhealthy relationships.  They know these things are not God’s choice for them, but they pretend everything is fine. The relationship is not satisfying to either of them.

To walk with God means that you and God are in agreement about your life.

The Bible says in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

To walk with God means you have aligned your will with His

And

Seek every day to consider yourself “crucified with Christ” (Galatians2:20).

You don’t have to be perfect, as none of us are (Romans 3:10).  But your heart’s desire is to be pleasing to God, and you are willing to let His Spirit conform you to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

When the Bible speaks of “walking,” it often refers to a lifestyle.  We can walk in the ways of the world as well (2 Kings 8:27; Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 3:7).  In the New Testament, walking with God is often called “walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:4).  To walk with God means we choose to glorify Him in every way we can, regardless of personal cost.  And there is a cost.

Walking with God also means we cannot also walk with evil people as companions (Psalm 1:1-3).  We choose the narrow road over the broad way to destruction (Mathew 7:13-14).  We don’t live to please our sinful flesh (Romans 13:14).  We seek to eliminate from our lives everything that does not enhance our walk with Him (Hebrews 12:2).  We apply 1 Corinthians 10:31 literally: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  God’s ways are reflected in our thoughts, our actions, our motivations, and our life choices because we spend so much time with Him.

It is not difficult to identify people who walk with God . . .

  • Their lives are a stark contrast to the world around them, like stars in a nighttime sky (Philippians 2:15 – “That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you sine as lights in the world”).
  • They produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 – “…love, joy, peace longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …”) rather than the fruit of fleshly desire (Galatians 5:19-21 – “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like …”).
  • In Acts 4:13 Peter and John had been arrested for preaching and were brought before the authorities. The Bible tells us, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

When we walk with God every day,

The world cannot help but recognize that,

In spite of our imperfections and lack of knowledge in some areas,

We have been with Jesus.

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 SCOPE OF THE STORY

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

21Aug  If you are a born-again child of the Most High God, do you fully understand the scope of the story you have been engrafted into?  Many people don’t.

Let’s take a look . . .

  • In the beginning everything was good.
  • In the Garden of Eden everything went bad: Sin, Satan, and death took center stage.
  • In that same Garden, God promised to send us a Redeemer.

For centuries, all creation longed for this promised Redeemer who would come and take everything bad and make it good.

This Redeemer finally came in the person of Jesus Christ.

During His brief stay on earth, He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, raised the dead to life, and preached the Gospel to everyone around Him.

Then He did what only He could do:

He went to the cross to take the place of sinners

Sinners like you and me

And

Pay the penalty for all their sins in full.

He lived the life that sinners can never live

And

Died the death sinners should have died.

And if that isn’t amazing enough,

It got even better on the third day,

When Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of His grave.

Christ’s resurrection is God’s stamp of approval on His sinless life and sacrificial death. Jesus has achieved victory over sin, Satan, and death itself.   And before He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, He commissioned His disciples to take His Good News and preach it to every creature, both near and far.

And this, beloved, is a glimpse of the scope of the greatest story ever told,

A story that has been given to those who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

His calling gives our lives purpose, meaning, and significance.

We have been given the great privilege to be His ambassadors in this world;

We are called to share His Word and teach His truth.

So . . .

Is the life you are living right now

Reflective of your understanding

The scope of His story?

We have been given the words of eternal life to share with all those whom we come in contact.  We have been given the authority to speak these words to others.  And we have been given the promise that God’s Word will not return to Him empty, but it will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:11).

The scope of His story is absolutely spectacular!  As we preach the good news of our sin-conquering, grave-conquering King who promises eternal life to all those who believe in Him by faith, we can be confident that He will accomplish His perfect purpose: to graft others into the scope of His glorious story of amazing grace.

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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FACTS OR FABLES?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

16Aug  One of the most common objections I hear from skeptics regarding the truth claims of Christianity is, “The stories in the Bible are no different from Aesop’s Fables.”  The skeptic insists that the stories in the Bible developed over time, based on myths which were passed along orally over the years until the New Testament was completed.  They believe the stories of Jesus and His miraculous healings’ simply evolved over time into what we read today.

How would you respond to a claim like that?

As usual, the Bible is not silent on this subject.

The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:16 . . .

“For we did not follow cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

Even secular skeptical historians acknowledge that the Christian church began the year Jesus was crucified (AD 30) in Jerusalem, because the apostles (who were eyewitnesses) were preaching both the crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This message did not develop over time.  This was not a “legend” that grew and became more fantastic as the years passed by.  Peter states that he and the other apostles saw both the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  T

These were not fables that the apostles were repeating;

They were recording factual accounts of actual events

That occurred right in front of their own eyes.

Here is how John explains it in 1 John 1:1, 3 . . .

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life” … That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” . . .  “

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

Most readers are familiar with the Prison Fellowship ministry.  Many Christians, however, are unaware that Charles (“Chuck”) Colson, Prison Fellowship’s founder, came to faith in Christ at age 42.  Prior to his conversion, Colson was known as President Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” who once famously boasted that he would “run over my own grandmother” to help the president.  Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice as part of the infamous Watergate scandal and served 7 months in federal prison.  It was during this time that Chuck Colson placed his trust in Jesus Christ.  The old Colson died; he was Born Again (the title of his most famous book).  Chuck Colson spoke of how the Resurrection profoundly affected his thinking:

“I know the Resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because twelve men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled twelve of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me twelve apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”  – Chuck Colson

Christianity is not a myth, legend, or fable.

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

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

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

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

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

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Living Each Moment Of Life With The Lord and Living For His Glory!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15Aug  How have you been spending your time lately?  When you have time to do whatever you want to do (as infrequent as that may be), how do you spend it?  Now, let me quickly assure you that this is not an article about time management and three steps to effectively managing your time.  It’s about prayerfully considering how you are investing the 168 hours the Lord gives you each week.

Studies tell us that the average American Christian spends less than ten minutes per day alone with God, while spending more than four hours each day on their computer, smart phones, and watching television.  Ten minutes with Truth . . . four hours with mostly trash.  It’s no surprise that the church in the United States is having very little effect on the surrounding culture and failing to impact the world for Christ.

Before you think you’re “off the hook” because you don’t spend that more time on your computer, smart phone, or watching television, give some thought to the other things you do with your free time.  Is there a hobby or recreation that consumes that time?  Does a sports team consume that time?  Your job?  Is there a relationship that consumes your time?  Anything other than God that consumes our time is simply a waste of time!  And we need to remember . . .

That for every hour we spend,

We have one less hour to spend!

Jesus spent every hour centered on the will of His Father in heaven.  His meat and drink was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).  In one of His darkest moments, just hours before His crucifixion, sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Not My will, but Your will be done.”  Jesus knew what He was here to do, and He refused to let anything distract Him from it – not the devil, not even the religious leaders who dogged His every step.

Every confrontation He had with them

Was another opportunity to do the will of God

By teaching those who had ears to hear

What was wrong with the world

And what God was doing about it.

I recognize that none of us will never use all our time as wisely as Jesus did.  But I believe a little self-examination will go a long way in helping us use the precious, un-repeatable time we have been given more wisely.  It’s important to note that . . .

Jesus never wasted a single moment,

And yet we often find Him retreating from the crowds

– Retreating even from His disciples –

To spend time alone with His heavenly Father.

So time well spent is time invested in setting before our Lord and in service to our Lord.  You remember the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 40:39,42, don’t you?  Mary, “who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching,” was commended by our Lord for choosing “the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 40:39, 42).

The only way to begin maximizing our time investments in the things that really matter in life is by keeping the Gospel before us each day.

Remembering what Jesus has done for us

Is the key that unlocks the door

Leading to a life of

Meaning, significance and purpose.

Like Lazarus lying dead in the tomb, we could not see, hear, smell, taste, talk, or walk in the spiritual realm.  We were dead.  But at the call of Christ, like the one He spoke that day – “Lazarus, come forth!” – we too were raised from death to life, a life that is to be lived with the Lord and for His glory.

Remember, when you spend an hour you have one less hour to spend . . . so spend it wisely!

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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Storms and Our Savior

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

14Aug  Storms are a fact of life on this side of glory.  As long as we live we will encounter – sickness and disease . . . suffering and disappointment . . . loss of employment . . . financial reversal . . . loneliness . . . wayward children . . . marriage difficulties . . . shattered dreams . . . death.  And these are just a few of the storms we may face!

So how have you been doing at weathering the storms of life that you’ve been facing lately?  When was the last time you thought, “WHERE IS GOD?!” as the waves of challenge were crashing over you?

The Bible says in Matthew 8:23-27, “Now when He (Jesus) got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.  And suddenly a great emptiest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.  But He was asleep.  Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, [Lord, save us!  We are perishing!’  But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’”

Many of the disciples were professional fishermen; the Sea of Galilee was their workplace, and this certainly was not their first encounter with a sudden storm.  The Sea of Galilee was notorious for unexpected, violent storms, as winds swept down from the mountain elevations over the waters of the sea.  Yet, the disciples were filled with great fear – that had to be a bad storm! And all the while, our Lord, exhausted from His works of ministry and the press of the crowds, lay sound asleep.

And what did the disciples do with their fear during this serious storm?

It is the most important lesson we need to learn in this life:

They went to Jesus.

This is the first thing we should do as children of the Most High God.  When the storm winds begin to blow, we must turn to Jesus.  We cry out to Jesus, just as the disciples did: “Lord! Save us! We are perishing!”  Indeed, the Lord invites us to, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.” (Psalm 50:15).

It should be a great comfort to read that the disciples had to wake Jesus.

Our Lord was not stressed out, startled, or surprised

By the storm that was blowing.

He was sound asleep, resting with complete confidence

In His relationship with His Father in heaven.

To know that God never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3-4) is a tremendous source for giving us “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  It is important for us to remember this when we find ourselves in the storms of life!

I want to point out something else that might easily be overlooked . . .

Jesus was with His disciples in the middle of the storm.

He is with us too.  Regardless of whatever storm winds may be blowing, Jesus is with us.  Jesus is not some “fair-weather” friend, found only when the sky is blue and the clouds are fleecy.  He is right there with us in the middle of every storm.  He has promised us, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus!

Jesus has been with you in every storm you have ever faced.  Every storm is used by God for His glory and for your good.  And yet we live in a fallen and broken world where some storms never fully pass.  Do you remember the story of the apostle Paul and his “thorn” storm? The Holy Spirit led him to write about it in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God does not calm every storm,

But

He is in control of all of them.

God knew the thorn was best for Paul, and He knows what storms are best left blowing in our lives too.  And one day we will face the inevitable storm that comes to us all in the valley of the shadow of death.  And in this final storm we will ever face, Jesus will be with us and will deliver us from it.  When we breathe our last and are absent from this body, we will be present with our Lord.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ . . . “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56, 58)

The Good News of the Gospel tells us that we are not only washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, but we have been purchased with that same precious blood.  Because we are His, we can face any storm wind that blows with the confident assurance that He is with us every step of the way.

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 WELL DO YOU DRINK FROM?

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

13Aug  When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, He made it clear that there are two different “wells” we can drink from:

One will sustain everyday life . . .

The other will sustain eternal life.

Jesus was returning to Galilee from Judea, and John’s gospel tells us our Lord “had to go through Samaria,” which means He had a divine appointment with the woman at the well.   Around noon, the woman came to the well to draw water to meet her physical needs.  But Jesus engaged her in a conversation about a different kind of water than what she had come looking for, a “living water.”  And after Jesus reviewed her past for her, she realized that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.  Notice what she did next:

“Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’”  (John 4:28-29)

After her encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, the woman abandoned the very reason she came to the well in the first place!  She forgot all about her water jar and ran back to town to tell everyone about the Messiah.

For the very first time in her life, this sinful woman knew the truth

That there was something greater than meeting physical needs.

Everything this woman had been looking to

In order to meet her in her deepest place of need

Was now met in her Messiah.

So . . . the question we must ask ourselves is this: What water jar are we willing to abandon in order to embrace Jesus and drink from His well of living water?

  • Climbing the ladder of success
  • Applause of man
  • Acceptance of others
  • Financial security
  • Physical pleasure

The list could go on and on.  When we are looking to meet our needs in anything other than Jesus, we are looking to fill our “water jar.”  Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we must be willing to leave it behind in order to have the deep thirst of our soul quenched by the living water that only our Savior can offer.

Some readers may be worrying about the jar the woman left behind at the well.  You might well ask, “She does need the physical water to sustain life, doesn’t she?”  Don’t worry about that; Jesus has promised to meet all of our physical needs too!

Jesus says in Matthew 6;31-33, “’So do not worry,’ He tells us, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’”

Our loving Lord promises to meet us

At our every point of need,

In this world and the next.

Truly, when we drink from His well, we will never grow thirsty 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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