Three Claims Christ Has On Our Lives

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

2May The Bible records God saying in Isaiah 43:1,

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Because we are created beings, we owe our existence to our Creator, whether we acknowledge this truth or not.

The unbeliever owes the exact same debt to God

That the believer does regarding our creation;

as Job said, “In His hand is the life of every creature

And the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10).

But is there anything “more” that the Lord claims when it comes to the Christian?

Our Lord Jesus Christ

Has staked three claims

Upon every one of His children.

I want to take a look at the tremendous Bible truths . . . and give you reason to celebrate and supernaturally strengthened by the truth!

Claim #1 – Natural

First, God places His claim upon everyone from the natural (or creational) standpoint.  The Bible says in Exodus 20:11 we read, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”  Again, the Bible says in Psalm 100:3, “Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who made us, and we ourselves.”  The Bible also tells us in Ezekiel 18:4, “Behold, all souls are Mine.  The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine.””

Claim #2 – Legal

Second, God in Christ places His claim upon all those whom He has redeemed.  The Bible says in Isaiah 44:22, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins.  Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”  God led the apostle Paul to write to the Christians at Corinth, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Claim #3 – Personal

Finally, Jesus now stakes His claim upon us because of the relationship that He, by His blood, has brought us into.  The Bible says in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service.”

Don’t miss this: Having made His rightful claim on us, both naturally and legally, our Lord Jesus still comes to us with the most intimate and personal appeal.

Jesus makes His third claim,

Not based on His natural and legal

Rights as Lord of lords,

But rather He makes His claim

For our surrender and submission

Based upon His sufferings on the cross.

As true and right as both His natural and legal claim are, they will only take relationship so far.  It is mercy that ministers to the mind and melts the heart.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has three claims on every Christian.  If you have acknowledged that you are a sinner, that you cannot save yourself, and have accepted what Jesus did on the cross and through the empty tomb, you are His, naturally, legally, and personally. As powerful as it is to know that we are His, for the Bible says in Daniel 5:23, He is “… the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways;” how powerfully encouraging it is to know that the Sovereign Lord of all the universe invites us into a personal relationship with Him!  Jesus, the loving Lamb of God, says to you:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For MY yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Now these truths ought to set our souls on fire

And encourage us to live exclusively for Jesus!

Let me close with these words from the Bible in Jeremiah 31:3, which reveal just how gracious and how glorious these three claims on you truly are: “The Lord appeared to of old to me, saying: ‘Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn 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 the Gospel

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

25Apr  Christian theology is about the gospel, which is focused on who Jesus is and what He said and did.  Jesus is the focus of history and the centerpiece of the entire Bible.

God made us to worship Him.  He was our Father, living and walking among us, giving us everything we needed to live, and yet we chose to sin against him – a colossal act of treason punishable by death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23).  As a result, we were separated from God, and we try to be our own gods, declaring what is right and wrong, and living life by our own standards.  To get back to the way man’s relationship with God was intended from the beginning, we need to understand what all was involved in the Gospel work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Lived

Despite our pride and ignorance, Jesus, who created the world and is God, lovingly came into human history as a man (John 1;14; Romans 1:3; 8:3; Galatians 4:4; Philemon 2:7; Colossians 1:22; 1 timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).  He was born of a virgin, (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) and He lived a life without sin, (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5) though He was tempted in every way as we are.

Because of His great love for us, He went to the cross and took on the punishment of death that we justly deserved (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2).  Before His death and after His resurrection, He preached that the good news of God’s kingdom, love, promise, forgiveness, and acceptance was fulfilled in him, in both his life and death.

Jesus Died

Our first parents in the garden substituted themselves for God, and, at the cross, Jesus reversed that substitution, substituting Himself for sinners (1 Corinthians 15:45-48).  When Jesus went to the cross, He willingly took upon Himself the sin of those who would come to trust in him (2 Corinthians5:21).  That means that if you trust Him as your Lord and Savior, Jesus went to the cross and took upon Himself all your sin – past, present, and future – and that He died in your place, paying your debt to God and purchasing your salvation (Mark 10:32; Luke 12:8; Romans 10:9).

Jesus Gives Us What We Cannot Provide Ourselves

Jesus not only took the punishment for your sin, but he also lived a perfectly righteous life.  When you trust in Christ, your sins are forgiven and you are declared righteous by God, the ultimate judge. The righteous of Christ is attributed to you as if you lived a perfect life.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  Martin Luther called this “the Great Exchange.” 

The Lord Jesus, is my righteousness, just as I was His sin.

He took upon Himself what is mine and have given me what is His.

He took upon Himself what He was not and has given to me what I was not.

The famous Christian hymn, “Rock of Ages,” says the same thing: “Be of sin the double cure. Save from wrath and make me pure.”

Jesus Rose

Jesus’ dead body was then laid in a tomb, where He lay buried for three days.  On the third day, Jesus rose in victory over Satan, sin, death, demons, and hell (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1 John 20:1).  After spending several more days eating, drinking, laughing, and teaching with His closest friends (John 20-21), He ascended into heaven, and today is alive and well (Acts 1:6-11).

He is seated on a throne, and He is ruling and reigning over all nations, cultures, philosophies, races, and periods of time.  Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, and those who trust in Him will enjoy eternity in His kingdom of heaven forever.  Those who do not will suffer apart from him in the conscious, eternal torments of hell (Revelation 21).

He is King of kings and He is Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14), and He is ruling and reigning over all people, commanding everyone everywhere to repent.  And now He commissions us with the Holy Spirit to be missionaries, telling this amazingly good news that there is a God who passionately, lovingly, continually, and relentlessly pursues us.

Gospel-Centered

To be gospel-centered means to focus on Jesus, who He is and what He has done, not on who we are and what we have done or will do for God.  The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1) who came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

In 1 Corinthians 15:4-6, the Bible Paul declares and defines the gospel clearly: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures … He was buried … he was raised on the third day according to the Scripture … He appeared …” Paul is led by God to say these facts are “of first importance.”

To hold this gospel message as “of first importance” is what it means for one’s theology and life to be “gospel-centered.”

The gospel should have a central place

In Christian theology and ministry.

The gospel is clearly the center

Of the purpose of Jesus’ ministry and the Bible.

It should also to be the center of what

Every Christian and church believes

Because the gospel is the power of God

For salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).

God Remains Faithful

The focus of the gospel is not on the inadequacy of mankind but rather on the character and glory of God.  The Bible declares in 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”  However, we are transformed when we live “by the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14) – avoiding both legalism and licentiousness—and pursuing the joy found in complete and utter surrender of our unrighteous life in exchange for His righteous life (Galatians 2:20).

The gospel is what makes us right with God (justification) and it is also what frees us to delight in God (sanctification). The gospel changes everything.  Calling the gospel the “power of God to the salvation for everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16) means that it is the power to accomplish the whole matter of salvation from beginning to end without a scrap of human effort.  We cannot and dare not ever move “beyond” the gospel. There is no such “beyond” for Christians, just a “different gospel,” (Galatians 1:6-7; 2 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 1:3) which is not good news at all.

Apart from the gospel

There is no forgiveness of sins,

No hope, and no transformation

Into Christ’s likeness.

A gospel-centered reading of the Bible sees it not as a record of good people earning God’s blessing, but bad people receiving God’s grace and gift of eternal life because Jesus earned it for them.

At the center of the Bible Is the good news that God

Treated Jesus the way

We deserved and

He daily treats us

The way Jesus deserved.

Jesus, Not Religion

Because of the amazing and radical message of the gospel, it’s important that we don’t confuse the gospel with religion.  The great need of the hour is that we intentionally talk about Jesus (Who He is and what He has done) all the time.   We worship Jesus, not religion.  As such, we desire to talk more about what Jesus has done rather than what people should do (Galatians 1:6-9).

The beauty of the gospel is that once

You truly understand what Jesus has done for you,

You desire to do what He calls you to do.

Trying to do it the other way around is futile.

The message of Jesus was, “Repent!” not, “Be better!”  As Martin Luther said in his first of his 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”  So, echoing Luther, we affirm that all of the Christian life should be turning from sin and surrendering to our Lord and Savior.  Trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners isn’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but instead the daily substance of Christianity.  The gospel is for everyone, every day, and every moment.

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 Greatest Event In History

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

Yesterday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ – something we do every every week and not just once a year.  The world calls it “Easter Sunday,” but we call it “Resurrection Sunday.”  We believe it is the most significant event the world has ever known or heard about.   With over 6,000 years of human history, how is it possible to pick the single most-important event ever?  Beginning at the dawn of creation and continuing until now, mankind has consistently made discoveries, inventions, and technological advances of every kind.   We have seen the rise and fall of empires, the success and failures of geniuses, and how the impact one courageous person can have on the course of history.  Yet . . .

One solitary event stands above them all.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is unique for many reasons, most notably because we could not be saved without it. His Resurrection is the guarantee for our eternal glory.

When we examine the summary of the Gospel given by the inspired New Testament authors, we see them consistently mentioning three things in every sermon: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

It is declared clearly and concisely in the Bible where it says, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 – “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures …” 

The Gospel cannot exist without all three of those elements, yet Paul continues, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (verse 14)  This and many other passages make it very clear that the resurrection is of utmost importance event in the history of the world and has always been a central part of the Gospel.

So, why do so many preachers and evangelists skip over the Resurrection, choosing only to focus on it one Sunday out of the year?  And how much do you personally know about the Greatest Event in History?

In today’s blog I want to share some thoughts on the resurrection and why it is the greatest event in the history of the world!  We must never underestimate the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The world believes that Jesus died, but the world is not so sure that He arose from the dead.  Peter’s message at Pentecost emphasized the Resurrection.  In fact, it is emphasized throughout the Book of Acts. What is the significance of the Resurrection?

1) It proves that Jesus is God’s Son.  Jesus stated that He had authority to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:17-18).  If He didn’t, He would still be in the grave!

2) It verifies the truth of Scripture.  Both in the Old Testament and in the teaching of Jesus, His resurrection is clearly taught (see Psalms 16:10; 110:1).  If Jesus had not come out of the tomb, then these Scriptures would not be true.

3) It assures our own future resurrection.  Because Jesus died and rose again, we shall one day be raised to be like Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  In fact, the entire structure of the Christian faith rests on the foundation of the Resurrection.  If we do away with His resurrection, we have no hope.

4) It is the proof of a future judgment.  The Bible declares in Acts 17:31, “Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man who He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.”

5) It is the basis for Christ’s heavenly priesthood.  Because He lives by the power of an endless life, He is able to save us “to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:23-28).  He lives to intercede for us.

6) It gives power for Christian living.  We cannot live for God by our own strength.  It is only as His resurrection power works in and through us that we can do His will and glorify His name (see Romans 6:4).

7) It assures our future inheritance.

Because we have a living hope,

We can experience hopeful living.

A dead hope grows weaker and weaker before it eventually dies.  But because Jesus Christ is alive, we have a glorious future (see 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Whenever God’s people gather on the Lord’s Day they bear witness that Jesus is alive and that the church has received spiritual blessings.

I think the most wonderful thing about the resurrection

Is that you and I can come to know the risen Savior personally,

And in so doing we receive redemption,

Forgiveness, and a future eternal home in heaven.

Sadly, the message of the resurrection of our Lord is missing in a lot of sermons today! From the writings of one of the most beloved preachers in history, we discover that this is not a new problem.  Over a hundred and fifty years ago, Charles Spurgeon made this comment regarding the resurrection: “Reflecting, the other day, on the sad state of the churches at the present time, I was led to look back to apostolic times … the main difference I observed was in the subject of their preaching.  I was surprised when I discovered that the very staple of the preaching of the apostles was the resurrection of the dead! … I was surprised to find that I had not been copying the apostolic fashion half as nearly as I might have done.  The apostles, when they preached, always testified concerning the resurrection of Jesus and the consequent resurrection of the dead.  It appears that the Alpha and the Omega of their gospel was the testimony that Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead according to the Scriptures.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, February 17, 1856.

The resurrection should be the subject and substance that all our messages and lessons are built upon.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ provides the opportunity to embark and continually experience a journey and life of unshakable faith?  Jesus says in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

Those of us who know the risen Christ personally, can learn to walk in fellowship with Him throughout our journey and grow in our love and appreciation for all He is and has done for us.  It is my prayer that you will make this most significant event seriously and consider the message of the resurrection for your life, receive Him as your Savior, and that you will learn to trust Him for His strength, comfort, joy and peace in the midst of life‘s troubles, disappointments, challenges, blessings and adventures.

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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Midday . . . Midnight

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

19Apr The Bible says in Mark 15:33-39, “When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’  And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah.’  And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.’ And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood facing Him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

In Jesus’ day, the hours of the day were counted from the time of sunrise.  The sixth hour would be noon or midday, and the ninth hour would be 3 p.m.  The Scriptures tell us that at midday it became as midnight; darkness covered the whole land.  Having endured the beatings, the crown of thorns, and the nine-inch nails driven through His feet and hands, our Lord hung on a rough, wooden cross.  Jesus now entered into the most horrific aspect of His crucifixion.  It can easily be missed, because it is, in a word, unfathomable.

The darkness mentioned here in the Scriptures reflects the Father removing His fellowship from His precious Son.  From all eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had existed in a perfect relationship of fellowship, love, and glory – until now!

It was one thing to suffer at the hands of men

Who were used of God to punish the sinless Savior

For the deeds of sinners like you and me;

But now the Holy Father unleashed His unimaginable

Wrath and judgment on His beloved Son,

Who was hanging on the cross, bleeding and dying,

To pay the penalty for our sins – all of them.

Because God’s eyes are too pure to look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), He turned His back on Jesus, who had become sin on our behalf so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The physical pain Jesus endured during His crucifixion –

We get our English word “excruciating” from the word for “crucify”

Is truly difficult for most of us to imagine.

That shuddering, gasping agony is reduced

To the level of a mosquito bite, however,

Compared to the shattering supernatural anguish

He experienced when He suffered something no Christian

Will ever have to experience –

Being forsaken of the Father.

The terrifying darkness at the sixth hour was not the result of some natural phenomena, such as an eclipse or dust storm; it was a supernatural sign from God to the watching world.  At the time when the sun would normally be at its brightest, midday became as midnight, and . . .

God judged the One who had never known sin

In the place of those who had known only

Sin since Adam and Eve’s catastrophic

Fall in the Garden of Eden.

The Bible describes the darkness thus: “The sun was darkened” (Luke 23:45).  In the original Greek text, we would read this statement as “the sun failing.”

The One who called the world into existence

And hung it on nothing,

Who spoke light into existence,

Sent this supernatural darkness

So that we might understand

The blackness of our sin

And

The damage it has caused.

Darkness in the Bible is often associated with judgment against sin and wickedness. The prophets spoke often of God’s judgment against sin that would be demonstrated in the form of darkness.  Who can forget the darkness God sent to cover the land of Egypt as judgment against Pharaoh when he refused to let the Israelites go (Exodus 10:22-23)?  Darkness is also used as a description of hell.  The Bible has a solemn message for those who do not accept Jesus as their Savior when it says in Matthew 25:30 “Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”

For three solid hours, from the sixth to the ninth hour, God poured out His cup of wrath and judgment on His precious Son, who was paying a debt of sin He did not owe for those who owed it but could not pay.  Jesus hung on that cruel cross, forsaken by His Father, and endured the unthinkable darkness of sin and hell.

The light of eternal love between the Father and the Son had been utterly extinguished.  On that day, when Jesus willingly took our place as our Substitute . . . our Savior. He experienced the “outer darkness” that we will never have to experience.

J. C. Ryle profoundly wrote: “It was meet and right that the attention of all around Jerusalem should be arrested in a marked way, when the great sacrifice for sin was being offered and the Son of God was dying. There were signs and wonders wrought in the sight of all Israel, when the law was given on Sinai. There were signs and wonders in like manner when the atoning blood of Christ was shed on Calvary. There was a sign for an unbelieving world. The darkness at mid-day was a miracle which would compel men to think.”

As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday this week, and it is important that you and I take some time to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins.

As we reflect on the unimaginable price Jesus paid,

Let us not merely remember the physical pain our Lord endured,

But the searing supernatural pain of separation from His Father

That He experienced so that we would never have to.

He did it in our place and on our behalf.

He did it for me . . . and for you.

And He did it fully, finally, and completely, as evidenced by His victory cry from the cross: “It is finished!” (John 19:30.)

Truly, Jesus is the Light and Life of the world.  Is He your light?  Is He your life?  By God’s grace may it be so this Resurrection season!

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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Agony In Gethesemane

Grace For The Journey

18Apr

The Bible says in Luke 22:44, “Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

The medical term is ‘hematidrosis,’ also called “blood sweat.”  Medical journals explain it this way: Near the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form, which constrict under the pressure of great stress.  Then, as the anxiety passes, the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture and blood goes into the sweat glands.

Now, let us return to today’s passage and prayerfully consider the deep truth revealed to us. You see . . .

As Jesus knelt in Gethsemane,

He fully understood

What He was about to do.

He was going to a cross

To drink the full cup

Of God’s wrath and judgment,

and

He was doing it on our behalf.

The anguish Jesus experienced was both raw and real, an intensity that was surpassed only by His earnest prayer to His Father in heaven.  Our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane teaches us a profound biblical truth: there is no pain and trauma we experience in life that Jesus did not experience Himself – and then even beyond what we can begin to comprehend, such as experiencing the full measure of God’s holy hatred for sin at Calvary.

Jesus was a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).  Many Bible translators note that the Hebrew word “makob,” can also be rendered as “immense anguish and pain.”  Dear fellow Christian, you are not alone in your anguish or agony.  Elsewhere in Isaiah we read, “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9a).

During pastoral counselling sessions, it is not uncommon for someone to say, “You just don’t understand what I’m going through!”  That is often true; I haven’t experienced what that individual has, and thus I can only sympathize, not truly empathize.

But there is One who does understand,

And His name is Jesus.

  • He knows our sins and our struggles.
  • He knows our frustrations and fears.
  • He knows our doubts and our defeats.
  • He knows our misfortune and our misery.
  • He knows everything about our story . . .

He is the One whom we can turn to and truth.

Regardless of where this message finds you today, always remember that Jesus is in it with you.

  • He lived your loneliness.
  • He suffered your storms.
  • He conquered your challenges.
  • He participated in your pain.
  • He was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin: (Hebrews 4:15).
  • He walked where you walk and is walking it all over again with you.

When He said He would never leave nor forsake you,

He meant what He said!

If you are blood bought, born again child of God,

Jesus is in you, with you, and for you,

And He will sustain you during

Whatever storms you are currently facing.

His drops of blood sweat are like battle scars that shout from heaven, “I have overcome the world; don’t give in and don’t give up!  Look to Me … Lean on Me … Surrender to Me.”

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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When Death Is Life!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

17Apr This is the week prior to Resurrection Sunday!  It is called “Passion Week” because of the events leading up to the death and burial of Jesus Christ.  The week starts off with a grand celebration of the crowd but ends up with the crucifixion of the Christ.  It seemed that sin, Satan, and false religion had won.  But then came Sunday!  On that Resurrection Day Jesus conquered sin and death.  The resurrection changed everything!

Jesus says in Luke 9:23-26, “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in HIs own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

Death is indeed life when we are dying for our Savior.  In calling us to die, Jesus is giving us true life and rescues us from certain death.

The serpent in the Garden of Eden promised life to Adam and Eve if they would simply turn away from God.  What they actually got was death.  Death masqueraded as life, but no life was to be found; instead Adam and Eve found themselves on the run away from the One who had given them life.

The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Not trusting in God seemed right to Adam and Eve, but in the end it delivered only death.  You and I often find ourselves in the very same place.  When we trust in ourselves rather than our God, it seems right to us at the time.  When God appears to be slow in responding to our plans, it seems right to bypass God and make our own way.  But in the end, it leads to death.  Oh, we won’t drop dead on the spot!  But, we become dead inside; we die spiritually, just as our first parents did.  It’s likely that all of you reading this have experienced this very thing on more than one occasion.

When Jesus said, “Deny yourself,” He was giving us the key to real life on this side of the grave.

  • Death to self is life to the Savior.
  • Death to our agenda is life to God’s agenda.
  • Death to our goals is life to God’s goals.
  • Death to our will is life to God’s will.

When we say NO to ourselves,

We are saying YES to God,

And that

Is the only place we will find life.

Death to self keeps us from the all-too-common condition of spiritual suicide.

Remember, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it,” and we try saving our lives when we insist on sitting on the throne of our lives.  We miss out on the life Jesus is calling us to live.  But “whoever loses his life for me will save it” is the result of keeping our Savior on the throne of our lives.

So . . . when is death life?  Death is life when we are laying our lives down for the One who laid His life down for us.  Living for the One who is the way, the truth, and the life is the key to finding and experiencing the life Jesus died to set us free to live!

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 Master’s Miracles

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

15Apr

John’s gospel tells us about the seven miracles that Jesus performed which, in a word, provided the credentials to back up His claim.

And what was His claim?

Jesus claimed to be God!

He made this claim in a number of ways, most profoundly through His seven great “I AM” statements:

  • I am the bread of life
  • I am the light of the world
  • I am the door
  • I am the good shepherd
  • I am the resurrection and the life
  • I am the way, the truth, and the life
  • I am the true vine

These “I AM” statements echoed Exodus 3:14, where God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush.  When Jesus repeating these words, He was making it crystal clear that He was God incarnate.  And that is why the religious leaders sought so many times to put Him to death and ultimately nailed Him to a cross.

The seven miracles Jesus performed were proof that confirmed Jesus as the promised Messiah, who had come into this world to save His people from their sins.  Here are those seven miracles, along with a statement of practical application to your life today, right where this finds you . . .

  • Turning water into wine – Jesus is the answer for our disappointments.
  • Healing the nobleman’s son – Jesus is the answer for our doubts.
  • Healing the paralyzed man at the pool – Jesus is the answer for our disabilities.
  • Feeding of the 5,000 – Jesus is the answer for our daily bread.
  • Jesus walks on water – Jesus is the answer for our despair.
  • Healing of the man born blind – Jesus is the answer for our darkness.
  • Raising Lazarus from the dead – Jesus is the answer for our date with death.

Now, Jesus is not the answer to many questions in life, such as . . .

  • What job we should have,
  • What kind of car we should drive,
  • What clothes we should wear,
  • What food we should eat,
  • Who to marry,
  • Where we should live,

And countless others.  But when it comes to the major questions in life that matter most?

 Jesus is the answer

 And

 Each one of the Master’s Miracles

 Provides us with a map

 In which to find them.

Keep looking to Jesus … The author of life … The answer to life … The anchor in life … and … the perfecter of your faith.

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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Prayer Is A Privelege

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

11Apr Jesus said in John 16:24, “. . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

Because of what Jesus has done on our behalf, we now have the privilege of entering into the presence of God in prayer.  Think about it this way . . .

The Creator of the universe,

The “High and Lofty One

Who inhabits eternity,

Whose name is Holy” (Isaiah 57:15),

Has invited us into His presence

To commune with Him –

Not only daily, but moment by moment.

The Bible reminds us of this wonderful truth in Hebrews 4:14-16, “Since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.  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.

Because of the work of Christ upon the cross, we do not need to go through the church, a priest, or any kind of temporal mediator to gain access to God.  Those who are in Christ have access to God 24/7, because Jesus made a way for us through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection 2000 years ago.

So, let me ask you this all-important question:

What does your prayer life look like?

Do you consider it a privilege

To enter into the throne room of God’s grace?

Or has prayer turned into a ritualistic practice

That you perform without giving it much thought?

As leaders of Christ’s church, my beloved wife Kay and I have had this simple truth brought home to us with great clarity: the only way forward as a church is on our knees.  We have a church filled with prayer warriors who consider it one of life’s greatest privileges to enter into the presence of the Creator and Sustainer of all things.

If you feel like you’re struggling to offer articulate prayers, try using the ACTS formula to help you practice the privilege of prayer:

A = Adoration – Prayers of praise and adoration are the foundation upon which Christian are to build their lives.

C = Confession – Prayers of confession uttered from hearts filled with a godly sorrow are one of the marks of the true child of God.

T – Thanksgiving – Prayers of thanksgiving for all God has done, is doing, and has promised to do – including those painful providences – demonstrate the maturity of the person who is growing in their faith.

S – Supplication – Prayers of petition – that is, asking God to supply our needs – are good, right, and necessary; Our God loves to hear them just as much as a human father wants to hear from his child who is in need.

Now, every prayer you utter need not include all parts of the ACTS acrostic, but it does serve as a reminder to keep you from spending all your time in supplication, while missing the incredible blessing of the other three areas of privilege in prayer.

If you spend any time reading the Gospels, you know that Jesus frequently withdrew from others so that He could be alone in prayer.  May these truths from the Bible encourage us to consistently practice the privilege of prayer.

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 Humility Of Jesus – That Sent Him To The Cross

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

11Apr  This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday: the day we remember our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on the foal of a donkey . . . knowing full well that His way ultimately led to the cross on Calvary’s Hill.  The Bible says in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, I daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Let’s dwell on this verse for a moment and drink in the overwhelming humility of the Lord Jesus Christ!  He didn’t ride into Jerusalem on a nobleman’s stallion or in a conqueror’s chariot.  No, Jesus rode on the foal of a donkey, so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled – the Scriptures He wrote (2 Timothy 3:16).  And He wrote into the script the most unlikely of animals to carry the King of kings and Lord of lords upon his back.

You will remember that the people were filled with excitement and enthusiasm; they made it known to all who were in earshot: “’Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they cried. ’Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna means “save now,” and that is exactly what these people were anticipating: salvation now from the repressive rule of Rome.  The people also made their joy known to all those who could see, greeting their King by waving palm branches and laying them as a covering for the path He was riding on.  The Bible says in John 12:12-13, “The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Palm branches were symbolic of goodness and victory in that day.  Revelation 7 describes how people from every nation will raise palm branches to honor Jesus.  During Holy Week, the people were waving branches to honor the Messiah, eagerly anticipating a smashing triumph over the hated Roman oppressor . . . not a triumph over sin.  They were expecting a political leader and military messiah who would restore Israel to her former glory.  They gave absolutely no thought to the notion of a Suffering Servant who would take away the sins of the world.

Just five days later, when the people realized that Jesus would not be expelling the Roman conqueror, and their shouts of praise and celebration turned into screams of condemnation: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).  Before the fresh-cut palm branches had lost their healthy green color, the people were seeking the death of the One who had come to give them life.

Jesus was undeterred.  He was on a mission, and He would not let anything stand in His way – neither the applause of men nor their condemning cries.  He was in the dead center of the will of His Father . . . and in a few days He would be hanging from a cruel cross, naked and bleeding, and gasping out His last agonized breaths.

Regardless of where this finds you today as we continue advancing through Holy Week, take some time to reflect on the One who came in unimaginable humility to conquer both sin and death so that you might have eternal life.  Remember what the Bible says in Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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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Testing . . . Testing . . . Testing . . .!

Grace For The Journey

2018BlogTheme

10Apr The Bible says in Psalm 26:2, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.”

God is in the business of testing His people.

Those tests are as promised as they are promising.

Unlike the devil, who tempts us with the intent of tripping us up and turning us away from our Lord, God tests us to strengthen our faith and conform us more and more into the image and likeness of His beloved Son.

Here is a question to ponder today:

“Do you receive God’s ways as readily as you receive God’s Word?”

Every born-again child of God receives His Word with great joy, but there are times when “joy” is not our first response when we are receiving God’s ways!  God’s ways are not our ways; we frequently expect God to respond to us in a particular way, and He responds to us in another way altogether.  When this happens – and it happens a lot – we must remember this sublime truth God gives us in in Hosea 14:9,

“The ways of the Lord are right!”

The prophet Hosea is telling us that

No matter what way God has prepared for us,

It is right; it is righteous, fair, just, merciful,

And absolutely what we needed at that time.

You see, God created us for His good purpose, and, as Job said, “For He performs (and complete – Philippian 1:6)  what is appointed for me …” (Job 23:14).  God made us for Himself to expand the cause of His kingdom in this world.  He knows what is best for us at all times and He knows exactly how to deliver that “best” to us at just the right moment . . . even though that may not be what we expected or wanted at the time.

When we have difficulty receiving God’s ways,

It is because we are seeking

Our will rather than God’s will for our lives.

We are pursuing what we want for ourselves

Rather than what God wants for us.

Because God made us, He knows what is best for us.  Throw our sinfulness into the mix, and it is plain to see that God must intervene on our behalf by conforming to us His ways if we are ever going to live the life He is calling us to live.

Have you been struggling with God’s ways in your life lately?

You are not alone!

We all struggle at times with God’s ways.

But remember the words of Hosea: the ways of the Lord are always right!  God loves us so much that He will cause us to walk in His ways rather than our own, knowing that in the end, it will be ultimately for His glory and our good.

When the Lord tests us with His ways,

we must trust His heart,

Even when we cannot trace His hand.

Kay and I put up a murial in our daughter Ashley’s room.  It spoke powerfully to us at the time of her death.  It says, “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”

Always remember what the Bible says in Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

Now that’s a way worth walking in!

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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