Some would say that God owes us forgiveness because He is a God of love. They say that God doesn’t mind going out of His way, in order to be extra nice to us. This is blasphemy because it was the cost of our sin that interrupted the eternal fellowship between the Father and the Son.
At the heart of forgiveness, lies the cross of Christ. Without the cross, forgiveness is impossible. Forgiveness is at the foundation of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross. As a person understands how God has forgiven him, he will experience the grace of God and the truth of Christianity. The Bible states in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” And in Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”
Forgiveness is not meant to be free and easy. It is hard. It is costly. It is painful. However, God’s forgiveness for Christians is real and empowers us in order to change us for our good and His glory.
How does God do this? Through the price He paid for us on the cross—Because God not only gave us the cross but also the resurrection.
When Jesus was praying in Gethsemane to be released from this death. It was not the physical torture He was concerned about, but the spiritual separation from God. No human analogy could ever explain that type of suffering. Not only did He pay it all on the cross, but He continues to suffer with and for those who have received Him as Savior. This is true love and forgiveness. The cross was the tool that Jesus used to complete His ministry on this earth. The cross is central to Christianity.
Without preaching the cross, there is no Christ, and if there is no Christ there is no forgiveness. I Corinthians 15:17, 19 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
The cross is the only way that people can be saved. The cross represents Christ paying it all. It was God's holy love that brought Christ to the cross. The cross is where Christ brought the full penalty of our disobedience upon Himself. He bore the judgment we deserve in order to give us the freedom that we as sinners do not deserve. The cross is where the mercy and justice of God was eternally satisfied. God cannot tolerate sin and His holy character causes Him to judge sin with a righteous anger. His judgment of sin is the reason Christ went to the cross. God had to either inflict punishment or assume it. He decided to do both. See Philippians 2:6-8.
Christ's death on the cross represents God's justice and love being simultaneously revealed. Christ received the judgment and we as sinners received the pardon. Through the substitution of Christ, we receive eternal life. Through our salvation we have been restored to fellowship with the true living God. The cross allows sinners to be justified by faith. We are not justified by our faith but by God's grace and by Christ's blood. Faith is the means we are united by Christ. In Christ we become the righteousness of God. See 2 Corinthians 5:21.
We should not regard the cross as the defeat and the resurrection as the victory. The cross is where the victory was won and the resurrection demonstrated that victory. We have died with Christ and risen with Him. We can no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf. See 2 Corinthians 5:15.
The cross reminds Christians of His sacrificial love and out of our love for Him, we preach the gospel because to those who are being saved, the cross is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (ESV)
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
What Christ did at Calvary is the only thing that can remove from our hands the sword of bitterness, revenge, vengeance, resentment, and unforgiveness.
The final words of Jesus from the cross separates Christianity from all other religions. In Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. These words demonstrate that Christianity is all about God’s GRACE and not good works. It is all about God coming down to forgive men, instead of men trying to earn their way into heaven. Praise God it is not up to our good works, because we fail miserably compared to a perfect holy righteous God.
Forgiveness is more than a way to be free from the bondage and pain we feel in our hearts. As a Christian, the ultimate goal of forgiveness, like the ultimate goal of our lives, is to bring glory and honor to God.
Our choices create our character, but they also can make a difference in others’ lives.
If you are a Christian, your willingness to forgive may even make a difference in how you share the message of the Gospel with others. Everyone in your sphere of influence needs a demonstration of the grace of God and the power of Christ’s resurrection. The world is watching!
Your choice to forgive is a powerful witness to your family, your friends, and your neighbors. It is a witness to the truth that Jesus Christ died for sinners and that He was raised from the dead and we shall be before His throne—sinners made saints, enemies reconciled to God, clothed in His righteousness—to adore and serve Him day and night for all eternity.
Is this not the amazing eternal power of forgiveness that separates Christianity from all other religions?
Are you searching for the truth of Forgiveness? Read the book of Colossians and let the Peacemaker speak for Himself.
What do the following verses tell us about the Holy Spirit?
John 3:5 (HCSB)—Enables me to be born again
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 12:3 (HCSB)—Enables me to confess that Jesus is Lord
3 Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:13 (HCSB)—Enablers me to have victory over sin
13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 (HCSB)—Enables me to grow in holiness
13 But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Ephesians 1:17 (HCSB)—Enables me to have His wisdom
17 ⌊I pray⌋ that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV)—Enables my spiritual gifts for the common good
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Romans 8:11 (HCSB)—Enables my life here and my life to come
11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.
How Can I Seek the Spirit?
Meditate on His Word.
John 6:63 (HCSB)
63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Believe The Word.
Galatians 3:5 (HCSB)
5 So then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Romans 10:17 (ESV)
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Obey The Word.
John 14:22-23 (HCSB)
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it You’re going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
Do you notice that love for Christ and keeping His word, are two sides of the same coin? And who gives you this special intimacy of love with the Father?
37 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink!
John 7:39 (HCSB)
39 He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Psalm 36:8 (HCSB)
8 They are filled from the abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your refreshing stream,
Psalm 42:1-2 (HCSB)
1 As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God?
Psalm 63:1 (HCSB)
1 God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.
Luke 11:9-13 (HCSB)
9 “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish?
12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Does all life really matter? How is life viewed in God’s eyes? What about the unborn, the poor, the immigrant, the elderly, and the disabled
I am a Man—1968, Memphis Tenn. This phrase has historically been a rallying cry against oppression for minorities. These sanitation workers were decrying that many considered them, because of their race, less than human.
The Elephant Man declares, "I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I ... am ... a ... man!" Joseph Carey Merrick (5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890 (27). 1980 movie
Genesis 1:26-27 (HCSB)
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.
We are told in Genesis 2:7 that while the rest of creation was spoken
into existence, human beings were sculpted by God and given the breath
of life. As Psalm 139 tells us “God knit us together in our mother’s womb—and we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
During the 6 days of creation God saw what He made, and it was good. But it is only after God created human beings did God say His creation was very good. We are like God in ways that nothing else in creation can be. We are capable of a conscious relationship with God—of fellowship with Him. We reflect the nature of God—we can think, reason, love, will, act. We know right from wrong; we can reflect God’s holiness in nature and righteousness in action. In our whole being we reflect that glory of God who made us.—Pastor William Smith
According to the website BabyCenter, a 9-week-old, unborn baby’s heart has finished dividing into four chambers, and the valves start to form—so do tiny teeth. The baby’s eyes are fully formed, and he has tiny earlobes. His basic physiology is in place, though he is still very tiny: “Your baby is about the size of a grape.”
Genesis 9:5-6 (HCSB)
5 I will require the life of every animal and every man for your life and your blood. I will require the life of each man’s brother for a man’s life.
6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in His image.--What is the context?
A violent act against a victim is a violent act against God Himself. “Human life has value, not because of a perceived value or contribution to society but because each human life has been stamped with God’s image, no matter how distorted it may be.”—GP. It’s not about what I think! I am not God! We must be driven by a biblical ethic, not a situational ethic. The unborn is not simply a clot if tissue to be washed down the drain.
What about the 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof joined a prayer meeting inside Emanuel AME Church, an historic black church, and then fatally shot nine of the twelve people in attendance. Roof sat through the Wednesday night meeting for nearly an hour before killing six women and three men, including the pastor.
John 8:31-32 (HCSB)
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.
32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Humans are created in the image of God (think mirror). Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, is the image of God (think same substance).
Read 2 Cor. 4:1-6.
I opened the paper chart, saw the positive pregnancy test, gritted my teeth, and breathed a silent prayer as I opened the door to exam room 2. I was immediately aware of the suffocating atmosphere in the room, where my patient, a lovely blonde with striking blue eyes, was perched on the table.
A high school cheerleader, church youth leader, and academic leader in her school, she had already been accepted at several colleges with multiple scholarships. She sat nervously, looking more like the 5-year-old girl who used to sit there in her patent leather shoes, bobby socks and ponytail, waiting for her dreaded immunization. Her mother sat rigidly in a chair between the door and the lavatory, not saying a word, staring at the floor. With difficulty, I reported, "Your pregnancy test is positive."
She and I wept together as her mother sat beside her, stone-faced, offering no solace. Slowly, I began to encourage her by saying, "You know, this changes dramatically the direction of your life, but it doesn't ruin your life, because God is a sovereign God who will give you grace. You will be a good mother. You will raise this child to be a God-fearing child of the King."
When I finished, her mother, who'd had all she could take, exploded. She declared emphatically, "She is not going to have this child! Tomorrow we are going to the abortion clinic, where she will abort this child."
The daughter began to weep. I pleaded, "Mama, you can't do that! It would violate all of your deepest personal convictions."
Without another word, the mother stormed out of the exam room. I looked at this precious young girl and said, "You need to go home with your mama." I encouraged her to also appeal to her daddy. I knew the family well. Her father and mother were leaders in the church.
Years later, she returned to the exact same room with her 17-year-old son for his sports physical. It happened to be his birthday. He was 6-foot-2, big and strapping, even at his age.
His mama did not go to medical school, nor did her academic dreams come true. However, I could tell she was extremely proud of her son. After I examined him, she came back into the room, looked at me with tears in her eyes, and asked, "Dr. Jackson, do you remember ..." whereupon we both began to weep. I immediately recalled the titanic spiritual battle that took place in that room for the life of her now-teenage son.
"Dr. Jackson, thank you," she said. "Thank you for helping me stand up to my mama, and thank you for helping me do what was right. All of my dreams did not come true, but my dream of being a mama one day -- that did come true. I am so proud of my boy! And I'll tell you one other thing: His grandmother loves him to death!"
True Meaning of Christmas 12/06/2017
It is humbling to know that Jesus came to earth born of a virgin and dressed in the flesh of a man. That He lived a sinless life and was tempted in all ways, yet without sin. That He humbled himself on a cross and died to set us free from sin and death. That He rose again and resides at the right hand of the Father. That He sent the Holy Spirit to empower His church to disciple the nations. Therefore, how does God enable MHBC to persevere in fellowship with Him, in spite of circumstances that discourages us?
Christ wants to be the sole source of all that is good to you and your only source of hope.
Exodus 20:5 (HCSB)
5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God …
. Romans 8:16-17 (HCSB)
16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,
17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.--This must be our supreme privilege and security! Don’t forget who and what you are.
Romans 8:15 (HCSB)
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”
Scripture confirms that God is our loving, listening, providing, righteous, powerful, generous Father.
Matthew 7:7-8 (HCSB)
7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Is God going to give you a rock and a snake (9)? Sometimes God answers the prayers that we ought to have made rather than the prayer we did make.
Psalm 130:5 (ESV)
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope;
Psalm 27:14 (HCSB)
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait for the LORD.
Scripture enables us to focus, ask, hear, and pursue after the Triune God.
The goal: To wait passionately for the Lord.—not just surviving.
Psalm 40:1-2 (HCSB)
1 I waited patiently for the LORD, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
2 He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.
Are you willing to wait on God, however long it takes? It takes humility to say yes, it takes God to bring it about.
Nehemiah and others with him prayed daily for nine months.
The wisdom and goodness of God is perfect. He answers at just the right moment to bring about the fullness of our joy and His glory.
3. His Plan
So why does God require us and regularly make it necessary for us to be patient, persistent, and persevering?
· To purge us of our self-centered and self-serving motives.
Are you more concerned for your own comfort and glory? Does the Father need to pull off some layers of self-absorption?
· To encourage us to live wisely, obediently, and reverently as we live out life.
God mostly works in the natural flow of life, and very often this takes time. Don’t kick the door open until God cracks it.—God sovereignly chooses to give His best time to give His best gifts. He is never too early or too late. God is always on time!
Abundant Life - After several more trips, the Strandjords sold everything they had and moved to Malaysia to do what they felt not enough are doing: preach the explicit gospel to the Malays. For six years, they trekked to towns and villages all over the country, including conservative states like Kelantan where strict Sharia laws reign. Despite receiving multiple death threats, they still visit villages to preach to strangers—and wherever they go, they say they see miracles: healings of the sick and brokenhearted, deliverance from demon possessions, and an awe and fervor for Jesus among Muslims whose eyes glimmer with tears when they hear what Christ did for them.
Father, may this be me. Thank you for giving me this heart. I don't want to waste my life. I pray for Your unique opportunity.
The following is adapted from Trevin Wax:
How am I sensing awe and humility in what God promises to do through me?
How many times have I failed to act in faith because I thought too little of myself, or because I minimized the gifts and talents and passions that God Himself has put in me?
How many times have I exaggerated challenges and diminished God’s call?
How many times have I faltered in faith, not by overestimating myself but by underestimating what God can do through me?
Failure to see the grandeur of God squashes our hope in what He can accomplish through us. A distorted vision of God leads to a diminished view of ourselves. In the end, we no longer think we are capable of doing what God has called us to do.
Underestimating myself is not humility, but faithlessness. The stronger my faith in God is, the stronger my faith will be in what God can and will do through me.
The Name Above All Names01/26/2016
Why It's Wrong to Take God's Name in Vain by Philip Graham Ryken, author of Exodus: Saved for God's Glory, which is part of the Preaching the Word commentary series.
What’s in a Name?
One of the first duties of parents is to name their children. This can be a difficult task. The parents make lists. They read baby name books and field suggestions from family members. They try various combinations and say them out loud to see how they sound. They consider all the possible nicknames, and then they check to see what the initials spell. Even after all this, they may still end up at the hospital not having reached agreement about what to call the child!
The one thing that is certain in all of this is that the parents will do the naming. Human beings do not name themselves. Our full names are given, not chosen, which shows that naming is an act of authority. I remember holding each of my newborn children in my arms, calling them by name, and telling them that I was their daddy. Naming a child is the first way that parents exercise their God-given authority.
By contrast, one of the remarkable things about God is that no one ever named him. Admittedly, from time to time people have come up with various false names for God. But God’s true name is chosen and revealed by God himself. We do not tell God who he is; he tells us. God has his own naming rights, and this is a sign of his sovereign authority. God’s name comes before all other names.
Much More Than a Name
In Exodus 3, God calls attention to his special covenant name Yahweh, or Lord. This was a name God revealed long before the Israelites even reached Mount Sinai. Back at the burning bush Moses asked for God’s name, and because of his great love for his people, God gave it to him:
God said to Moses, “I am who i am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:14, 15)
The name that God revealed was his personal name Yahweh, sometimes called thetetragrammaton because in Hebrew it consists of four letters: YHWH. Literally God’s name means “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be.” It speaks of God’s self-existence, self-sufficiency, and supreme sovereignty. As the events of the exodus unfolded, it also testified to his saving power. The Israelites learned from their deliverance that the God who revealed his name to Moses is a God who saves.
As we start unpacking the meaning of God’s name, it quickly becomes obvious thatYahweh, or “Lord,” is much more than a name. It is God’s identity. This was the whole Hebrew understanding of names. For us a name is a label; it is something we have, not something we are. But for the Hebrews the name was inseparable from the person. It expressed a person’s inward identity. When we use the name of God, therefore, we are referring to the essence of his divine being.
Misusing God’s Name
Like the rest of God’s moral law, the third commandment is both negative and positive. In its negative form it forbids the misuse of God’s name. To quote the old King James Version, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Or to give a more literal translation, “You shall not lift up the name of the Lord your God for nothingness.”
What does it mean to “lift up” God’s name? This term had a fairly technical meaning. It was used in legal situations to refer to the taking of an oath. When witnesses needed to confirm their testimony, instead of swearing on a Bible, they lifted a hand and swore by God’s name. However, the term was also used more broadly for other situations when people took God’s name on their lips. His name was “lifted up” in worship and whenever else people talked about him.
God’s people were not forbidden to use God’s name. Many orthodox Jews take this commandment more strictly than God intended, refusing to use God’s special divine name at all, for fear of misusing it. But God wants us to use his name! This is proven by the Old Testament, where God’s sacred divine name is used all over the place—almost 7,000 occurrences in all. God gave us his name so that we would be able to address him personally. Calling him by name strengthens our love relationship with him.
What God forbids is not the use of his name, then, but its misuse. To be specific, we are not to use it in a vain or empty way. The specific misuse that God has in mind is speaking about him carelessly, thoughtlessly, or even flippantly, as if he didn’t matter or really didn’t exist at all. God’s name has deep spiritual significance. So to treat it like something worthless is profanity in the truest sense of the word: It is to treat something holy and sacred as common and secular.
A Very Great Sin
To dishonor God’s name in any way is to denigrate his holiness. It is a way of saying that God himself is worthless. Anyone who breaks the third commandment will be held accountable: “The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (20:7b). The precise punishment is left unspecified. In fact, the threat seems almost understated: The lawbreaker simply is said not to be without guilt. However, this expression is what grammarians call a meiosis, in which less is said, but much more is intended. For example, when people in authority say, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” they are not simply offering a casual opinion but are issuing a stern warning. So when God says that he will not hold us guiltless, what he means is that he will condemn us. We will not be innocent but guilty—reckoned unrighteous by Almighty God.
The reason God will condemn us is because misusing his name is a very great sin. It is a direct attack on his honor and glory, and anyone who makes such an attack deserves to be condemned. When people break the third or any other commandment, they are guilty before God, and ultimately they will be judged for their sins.
There are many examples in the Bible. Perhaps the most shocking occurs in Leviticus 24. A dispute broke out between two Israelites, one of whom was part Egyptian. As they fought, the man of mixed descent blurted out a curse against God. The Scripture says that he “blasphemed the Name, and cursed” (Leviticus 24:11a). The bystanders were appalled at what the man said; so they seized him and brought him to stand trial before Moses. The Lord did not hold the man guiltless but said, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 24:13–16a).
When God says that anyone who misuses his name will be held responsible, we should take him at his word!
Philip Graham Ryken is the president of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a contributor to the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible and the author of numerous books, including Exodus: Saved for God's Glory.
7 Steps to Knowing the Will of God11/04/2015
By Chuck Lawless
Many people have written about determining the will of God, and my goal here is not to simply add to those volumes. Instead, here are some simple steps that I hope will counter some wrong understandings and provide you some basic instruction.
The following represents the evidence for believing the Bible to be God’s Word:
1. The Scriptures are breathed out by God in such a way as to be totally authoritative and binding for all of a person’s life and godliness (2 Tim 3:14–17; 2 Pet 1:3).
2. God commands people to accept Scripture as His written Word (1 Cor 14:37 John 5:47 Luke 16:31 1 John 4:6).
3. God has promised that His Word will endure for all of eternity (Matt 5:17; John 10:31; Isa 59:21; Ps 111:7–8 ).
4. The New Testament authors always recognized the Old Testament as the sufficient Word ( Rom 4:23; 15:4; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21).
5. The New Testament claims the same authority for itself as it distinguishes in the Old Testament (1 Tim 5:18; 2 Pet 3:16).
6. Christians must accept the Bible as the written Word of God. The Word can not be judged by the standards of men. The Word of God stands by itself and is established and made incorruptible by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
7. Any apparent difficulties with the teaching of the Bible rest on a person’s miscomprehension of the world, the Scripture, or both.
8. Christians can have complete assurance that the Holy Spirit is enabling us to communicate to and understand God through His Word.
9. The Holy Spirit will always be making students of the Word more like Christ.
10. The deeper the students go into the depths of the Word, the more they will see, feel, think, and act like Christ Himself.
The gospel is this: we are not loved because we are lovely, but in spite of our unloveliness. We are not loved because we have made ourselves worthy of love, but because Jesus died for us when we were unattractive in order to make us attractive.
God works through God-fearing people to produce God-fearing families. This results in the power of the Spirit working through the bride of Christ (local church), taking the gospel to their own community and to the ends of the earth.
The gospel produces a constellation of traits in us:
Mark 5:18-20 (HCSB)
18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him.
19 But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.”
20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
The humbling nature of the gospel must lead us to approach others without superiority. Since we are saved only by God's grace and not by our goodness, we expect to often find wisdom and compassion in others, which at many points may exceed our own. You will be an ineffective gospel-bearer If you are not driven by humility, love, and a respect for others (Matt. 22:37-40).
The love that we experience because of the gospel must remove from us the fear of others disapproval. Is our boldness increasing? If not, we must repent and reflect on the gospel and God's acceptance of us until fear diminishes.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)
15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Frank Retief, a pastor and church planter in South Africa, writes, “people without Christ go to hell—If you really believe that you've got to take risks, take a chance and be prepared to fail.”
Lead me Holy Spirit06/10/2015
There are at least two things that should characterize every Christ-followers heart:
1. A Desire to Sacrifice
Galatians 2:20 (HCSB)
20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
“A heart that truly understands the gospel overflows with gratefulness to God. Extravagant grace produces extravagant givers.” (Loc. 1501)
Who were you before Jesus saved you?
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
The more you realize how much loves you, the more His love will spill out from you.
Robert and Maridith Lane took a major risk when they moved to South Sudan, a battleground nation in northeast Africa. But they see it as a risk worth taking. When the Lanes first visited in 2010, their hearts became burdened for the more than 400,000 people unreached by the Gospel in South Sudan, which became independent of Sudan in 2011. They came back for good in 2013.
Now, the Lanes and their missionary teammates are learning to live a life more difficult than they ever imagined as they reach out to the Dinka Rek people group, who number nearly 3 million. See related video.
"We need to be ready for those hardships, ready for those difficulties, ready to be used as a sacrifice for Christ as we try to make His name famous," Robert said. "The Dinka are very strong and proud. In tradition, they're extremely warlike. They say, 'We hate our enemy, we hate this other people group, we hate people who try to take anything from us or keep us from political power.'"
However, the Lanes have no doubt South Sudan is where God has called them. Getting into the country is usually difficult, but they've been able to gain access, set up a house and build relationships with local people in a short period of time. "It's not been easy by any stretch of the imagination," Robert said. "But in a lot of ways we've been able to do something that should really be impossible, and I see that as a very big confirmation of God's will to have us in South Sudan."
Are you a willing servant, eager to be poured out for God and His glory? Are you serving out a heart of deep gratefulness and passionate worship?
Does God want us to be generous? “God calls us to be generous, not because he has needs, but because he wants us to become generous, as he is. Generosity is not something God wants from us, you see, as much as something he wants for us.”
― J.D. Greear, Jesus, Continued...: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You
Should an offering to God cost us something?
2 Samuel 24:24 (HCSB) (land on which to construct the temple)
24 The king answered, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost ⌊me⌋ nothing.”
Yes, because it’s not about giving something to God that He needs. It’s about giving to God a gift that cost us something in order to express how much we adore Him.
2. A Desire to Surrender
1 Samuel 15:22 (HCSB) (The Rebuke of Saul)
22 Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention ⌊is better⌋ than the fat of rams.
Luke 9:23 (HCSB)
23 Then He said to ⌊them⌋ all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (embrace My agenda), and follow Me.
“Deny yourself” means a total surrender of every desire in your heart to God. Every dream, every desire, every ambition. You say “no” to all that you want from life so that you are ready to say “yes” to all that He wants from it.” (Loc. 1551)
To follow Jesus means that you die to any control you maintain over your life. Like a man on a cross, you place yourself under Jesus’ complete domination, with no more dreams of your own. Dead men have no more ambition for their lives.
Have you ever presented your life to God that way — with no conditions, no restrictions? (Loc. 1561)
Romans 12:1-2 (HCSB)
1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies (continually) as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
What should drive us? How do we worship God?
Is the Holy Spirit a divine butler or a mission commander?
“The true Spirit of Jesus serves the mission of the cross. His goal is to make the cross larger in our hearts and to compel us to yield our lives in service to its purpose. The Holy Spirit, you could say, is always leading to the cross or from it, to carry its message of healing to others.” (Loc. 1581)
It’s not about sitting around telling God, “whatever you want me to do, I will do.” It’s about telling the Lord, “Here I am send me.”
“In response to the gospel, seek to sacrifice, yearn to give, get ready to offer yourself, and look to the Holy Spirit to show you where He wants you to go and what He wants you to do.” (Loc. 1640)
A. What do you want to thank God for?
B. What do you desire from this life?
C. Give these things back to God as a sacrifice to Him. Saying, “Not my will but Yours be done.”
This was taken adapted from Chapter six of Jesus, Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You.
by JD Greear.
John 3:8 (HCSB)
8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Bernard Ramm commented, “To profess to know a great deal about the Spirit of God is contrary to the nature of the Spirit of God. There is a hiddenness to the Spirit that cannot be uncovered. There is an immediacy of the Spirit that cannot be shoved into vision. There is an invisibility of the Spirit that cannot be forced into visibility. There is a reticence of the Spirit that cannot be converted into openness.”
How do we know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us? What does it mean when people say that “he spoke to my heart?” The Spirit guides us in ways that are mysterious and varied.
If we fail to acknowledge this mystery, we either reduce God’s working to a formula that will cause us to miss the Spirit’s movement in our lives, or we become over confident in what we think He is saying to us. The danger here is that we are giving our subjective feelings the same authority as that of Scripture.
The Hour of Power03/25/2015
The Hour of Power
What competes for your personal Bible study time? Do you seek to guard the time you give to the personal study of your Bible? Whether you have 15 minutes or two hours, how can you make the most of the time you have to read and study?
Jen Wilkin states, “It can be tempting to want our personal study time to fill our emotional tank for the day. We may rush to find an application point we can act on in whatever time we have. This may mean we limit our time in the Word to devotional reading—meditating on a passage and looking for a way to put it to immediate use. Devotional reading is beneficial, but it is not foundational, and its benefit actually increases exponentially as we grow in our foundational understanding of the Bible. So we must be sure to study the Bible with our minds, as well as with our hearts.”
With the time allotted to you each day, how can you seek to build a basic knowledge of Scripture? Here are nine suggestions.
1. Take a Long-term View
View your Bible reading as a savings account rather than a debit card. It’s about hiding His Word in our hearts, not regurgitating it back out.
Psalm 119:11 (HCSB)
11 I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.
The study of God’s Word is never wasted. Trust the Holy Spirit to bring His Word back to your forefront.
Luke 12:11-12 (HCSB)
11 Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say.
12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”
2. Stay Put
Don’t skip around, learn the context. Choose a book, and read it all the way through.
Jen Wilkin states, “Reading a book of the Bible from start to finish helps us connect the dots in our Bible knowledge and generate a cohesive understanding of the text.”
3. Honor The Context
Answer the following questions before beginning to read a book of the Bible: Who wrote it? When was it written and to whom? What is the theme and purpose? What is the historical and cultural context? You can find the answer to these questions from a good study Bible, and I would recommend the ESV Study Bible.
4. Understand Genre (Kind)
Jen Wilkin states, “The Bible is comprised of many different literary genres. It contains historical narrative, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature and more. Each of these genres abides by certain rules. Each uses language and imagery in a certain way. We cannot read the Psalms the same way we read the Gospels, nor can we read prophecy the way we read wisdom literature.”
5. Use The Right Tools
Read until you know what the text says. Look up what words mean. Use online sources like Preceptaustin.org. Check for cross-references see (openbible.info/labs/cross-references/). For help in finding a good commentary go to: danielakin.com/building-a-theological-library-2013-update/.
6. Dwell in The “I Don’t Know”
Jen Wilkin states, “Until we feel the extent of what we do not know, we won’t push ourselves to pursue knowledge.”
This is so true. Don’t be so quick to gloss over the Word. Chew on it. Seek to find answers to the text that leaves you asking questions. However, spend some time studying it on your own before seeking help from other sources.
7. Study The Whole
Is the OT more intimidating to you than the NT? Remember, all of it is God’s Word.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Without the OT, we would never be able to fully understand the NT. Hebrews wouldn’t be as weighty without Leviticus.
8. The Bible is not about Us
The Bible is about the character and work of God. The Bible was written for a community, not an individual. In the OT, it was Israel. In the NT, it was the church.
You will grow as an individual as you learn to see your own character in relation to God’s magnificent glory. Time in the Word will show you the bigness of God and the smallness of man (Isa. 40:28-31). Ask the following as you read the Bible: How does this text bring out the bigness of God? What does this passage teach me about the redeeming work of God? How does seeing God in this text lead to Christ-centered application?
· Insights Gleaned—What is God saying to me?—What is the Bible teaching me?
· Put Off—How have I failed to live by God’s Truth?
· Put On—What changes do I need to make?—How is He calling me to walk in His Grace?
· My Plan for Change—How will I make these changes? What is my specific plan? What does change look like for this DAY ONLY?
Cry out for God’s wisdom. Pray before the following before you begin your Bible study:
Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things in Your Word (Ps. 119:18). Touch me with Your salve that I may see (Rev. 3:18). Enlighten the eyes of my heart (Eph. 1:18).
God always answers those desiring to be more like Him.
3 You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.
Optimism Vs. Pessimism
Which one is your bent?
1. The Lord is Sovereign
Psalm 24:1 (HCSB)
The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD;
Psalm 9:18-20 (HCSB)
18 For the oppressed will not always be forgotten; the hope of the afflicted will not perish forever. 19 Rise up, LORD! Do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged in Your presence. 20 Put terror in them, LORD; let the nations know they are only men.Selah
Satan is no more than a dog on God’s leash.
2. The Lord is Victorious
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (HCSB)
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Even our worst moments are able to be used for God’s redemptive work (See Ps. 25).
3. The Lord is Gracious
1 John 4:19 (HCSB)—His love destroys our love for self.
19 We love because He first loved us.
Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB)
32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
God is able to penetrate the vilest offender with His amazing grace.
4. The Lord is here and is coming.
Revelation 3:19-22 (HCSB)
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent.
20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.
21 The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Dr. Bruce Beck
Bruce is a graduate of Clayton College State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with Marketing.