Connect

Stay connected!

LOVING GOD MATTERS

LOVING GOD MATTERS

““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34–39, ESV)

Do you love God? If so, is the love you have displayed for God caused others to accuse you of being a hater? Why is it that Love for God, the first and greatest commandment, is not a part of this debate concerning same sex marriage? Why do people automatically assume that the Christian (who loves God and wants to obey and glorify Him), hates homosexuals just because he doesn’t want to endorse something that does not please God?

In the passage above, Jesus makes it clear that following Him would not bring peace in our families or with our friends, but that our love for Him would make enemies of those that are closest to us. Why is this? Paul tells us it is because people are “lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:4) We, as a culture, have come to a place of loving love, not the God of love. We love companionship and feeling good. As long as I am pleased, we say, I am happy. Therefore, what God says doesn’t really matter. Or, if it does, we change His Word to fit our convictions and our lifestyles, or we simply appeal to His grace by saying, “He will forgive me,” at the expense of His righteous and just nature.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1–4, ESV)

            What God says does matter. It was God who told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree in the garden, “For on that day you will surely die.” God warned them, but Satan convinced them that what God says doesn’t matter, and they ate and died spiritually that day. Eventually they would experience the loss of a child at the hand of their eldest son and they would grow old and return to the soil from which they came. However, this was not God’s intent for them. God created a garden for them to dwell in where He walked in their midst. He had given them paradise, but they wanted to find a paradise separate from God’s rules. And this only brought great pain and grief.

            The true Christian will seek always to love God first. Trusting His Word and obeying all that He requires of us displays love for God. Two things He requires of the true Christian are to love their neighbor as themselves and to love their enemies, but always in light of the first and greatest commandment.

AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'

The Greek word used for love here is “agape”, meaning unconditional love. As true Christians we should love all people the way God has loved us, and God loved us enough to tell us what was keeping us from Him.  

Therefore, when the true Christian doesn’t accept what God calls sin in your life, know that they do so because they love you and want you to experience the same love that God has shown them – the fullness of which is experienced only through repentance. Repentance means to turn away from the path you have chosen apart from God and turn to Him as the only source of joy and peace. Admit to Him you are a sinner, walking in disobedience to Him, and then commit to follow Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

When a true Christian is bold enough to stand with God, know that they do so in order that you would come to know God as they do. The reason the true Christian will not tolerate sin in your life is because they love you. Tolerance is not love rather it is indifference. It has been said…

 

“The opposite of love is hate and the worst form of hate is indifference.”

Will you find your life today by losing it? Humility is the way to salvation. We must die to our love of pleasure; to our self-centered life and seek to please God. Will you love God above all else? By so doing, you will have “joy inexpressible and full of glory, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8)

 

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis

Continue reading
  1089 Hits
  6 Comments
1089 Hits
6 Comments

God Loves The Homosexual

God Loves The Homosexual

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7–8, ESV)

   God loves me! Who doesn’t want to hear, and, for that matter, know that God loves them? But what does that love look like? According to Paul’s words, here in Romans 5, Gods love is demonstrated by sending His Son to die for unrighteous people – people who have sinned and fallen short of Gods standard of righteousness, that righteous standard being Jesus.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

   The, we, in this passage includes all of mankind. Paul tells us in Romans 3 that there is nobody, apart from Christ, that is truly righteous. Therefore, God demonstrated His love for us by sending His perfectly righteous Son to take our place and die with our sin. Why did He do this? Because He loves us! And He wanted us to experience Him in his fullness for all eternity. Something that wasn’t possible in our sinful condition; a condition we are powerless to change.

   So, how do we experience this love? By admitting we are sinners and having a heart to turn from that sin to His righteousness. And if for some reason you have a hard time knowing what that sin is, know that God loves you enough to tell you.

   One day, during His time here in this world, a very wealthy leader of the people approached Jesus and asked Him, “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?”(Mark 10:17-31)  You know the story, Jesus told him to follow the commandments of God: don’t kill, don’t have an affair, don’t steal and don’t lie. The young man responded by saying he had been obedient to all of those commands, but asked, “What do I still lack?” He understood that something was missing. Jesus proceeded to tell him to sell all he owned and follow Him. The part of this story that blows my mind, however, is not so much what Jesus said in response to the young man as the heart in which He said it.

“And Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing’”… (Mark 10:21a)

   Jesus loved him enough to tell him what was keeping him from heaven. And judging by the response of the young man after Jesus told him what he lacked, the young man never repented. He never turned from his personal god (money), to the God who loved him. You see Jesus wasn’t afraid to lose the young man by telling him the truth, because the young man was already lost and needed to know how to be saved. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

   Which brings me to the reason I write this blog. I have been hearing a lot in the news and on social media that gay marriage is an issue of love and therefore should be legalized. People have even gone so far as to say, God is love and therefore if two people love each other, God approves. But I wonder if that fits with the narrative of Gods love we have painted thus far? Look at it this way: If a gay couple were to come up to Jesus and ask Him “What must we do to be saved”, how would Jesus respond? He would tell them the truth because He loves them. “Give up your relationship and follow me.” I’m not concerned with your temporary happiness; I am concerned with your eternal happiness. (I will follow up this blog with what the bible says concerning Homosexuality and gay marriage. But for now I wanted people to know my heart in this issue).

   I realize that many will read this blog and label me a hater, and that will grieve my heart. I fought for weeks how I might write this so as not to be seen as a bigot or a hater. It would be much easier to remain quiet and say nothing. But it grieved me more to see Gods love misrepresented in a manner that would condemn people to an eternity apart from Him. Jesus wasn’t willing that the rich young ruler should perish. He loved him, and then told him why he didn’t have eternal life. Neither is Jesus willing that the Homosexual should parish. We are His voice! We are the ones who must be willing to tell people why they don’t have eternal life, no matter what walk of life they come from. Saying nothing on this matter when we hold the truth in our hands would be the ultimate form of hatred.

   However, lest we as Christians become bogged down in always pointing out what is wrong, don’t forget that we are messengers of hope. We proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel is a term that means Good News. And this is the Gospel: God loved sinners so much that He was willing to send His Son into the world to die in our place, so that the world might be saved through Him.

  

““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

   Remember Christian; we aren’t messengers of hate, but messengers of hope. What people do with that message, how they respond to it, is not our concern. We just need to give them the opportunity to respond.  

Continue reading
  1521 Hits
  2 Comments
1521 Hits
2 Comments

Who Is Your God?

Who Is Your God?

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18–19, ESV)

   Cyclops, the fictional character depicted by the ancient playwright, Europedes, gives no illusion to where his devotion lies.

“My flocks which I sacrifice to no one but myself, and not to the gods, and to this my belly, the greatest of the gods: for to eat and drink each day, and to give one’s self no trouble, this is the god of wise men.”

   These words are a perfect portrait of humanity. Whether poor or rich, slave or free, mankind seeks fulfillment through his belly. I don’t care what walk of life we come from, we tend to look to things and fleshly pleasures to bring us fulfillment. Unfortunately, looking for fulfillment in this way is like putting change in a pocket with holes; it just never fills us up. Worse yet, rather than gain we experience loss.

   Paul’s words to the Philippians trouble me. Because the men he is talking about are those who tasted of the mercy and grace of God. Yet they forsook the God who gives us eternal reward for a god, in their bellies, which can never satisfy.

   Jesus had to deal with this attitude in the hearts of men when He confronted them with the truth of why they wanted to make Him king over them. He said:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”” (John 6:26–27, ESV)

   Many in the Church have looked to Christ as a means for temporary satisfaction with things that perish, rather than the source of eternal life: a relationship with the living God for all eternity. He is nothing more than a genie in a bottle: a source for their worldly appetites and pleasures. Oh what an offence to the God who gave His Son so we would be free from such empty passion!

   To the men who wanted to make Him king, Jesus was nothing more than a man who could give them what they wanted. They didn’t see Him as the Son of God who came to breathe life everlasting into their parched souls. They had no vision for eternal things, or, for that matter, desire for eternal things. They, like Esau, would sell their birthright (their eternal existence with God), for a bowl of soup. Therefore, Paul says of such men that their end is destruction.   

   My friends, like Paul, I encourage you to focus on Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. Press forward to the upward call of Christ. Be reminded of Lot’s wife who looked back on Sodom and Gomorrah, revealing her true desire, and whose end was destruction. What is it that matters most to you? Have you left this world to follow God with a whole heart, “counting all things loss for the sake of knowing Christ?” If so, you have lost nothing that would not have perished in the end anyway.

“He is no fool who has given up that which he cannot keep in order to gain that which he cannot loose.”

                                                                                 Jim Elliot

Continue reading
  1148 Hits
  1 Comment
1148 Hits
1 Comment

Who Killed Jesus

Who Killed Jesus

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:10–11, ESV)

Who Killed Jesus?

Was it the Roman soldiers at the command of Pilot? There is no doubt that Pilot gave the command to crucify Him. And certainly we have the account in scripture that it was Roman guards who nailed his hands and feet to the cross. On that count Pilot is Guilty. However, it is also true that he was persistent in his efforts to free Jesus, knowing Him to be innocent.

“A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.”” (Luke 23:22, ESV)

But the Jewish leaders were insistent that Jesus should die.

“When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”” (John 19:6, ESV)

So, Who killed Jesus?

Was it the Jewish leaders? Consider the scene in the garden the night of His arrest. It was the Jewish leaders who paid Judas to betray Him. It was the Jewish leaders who sent guards to arrest Jesus. It was the Jewish leaders who first brought Him to trial on trumped up charges, falsely accusing Him. It was the Jewish leaders who sent Him to Pilot to be tried. And, as we see in the passage above, it was the Jewish Chief priest and officers that cried out “Crucify Him!” John tells us in His gospel that Jesus came to His own and His own did not receive Him. So I suppose we can conclude that Pilot was simply the hand the Jewish leaders used to Kill Jesus.

Therefore, who killed Jesus?

The account in the Gospels tells us the Jews handed Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. But is it really that simple? Consider one more possibility with me. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, before He was arrested, He prayed a simple prayer.

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”” (Matthew 26:39, ESV)

 What cup is Jesus talking about? We often assume that Jesus was praying concerning what men would do to Him. But in scripture the cup is a reference to Gods wrath. Type into your Internet browser the words “cup of Gods wrath” and take note of all the references in scripture to His ensuing judgment upon men. For the sake of space and time, I will share one.

“Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.” (Jeremiah 25:15, ESV)

Why would God allow Jesus to drink from this cup?

 After all Jesus pleaded with God to remove it – if at all possible. We know He went to the cross and suffered horribly at the hands of men, crying out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” So I guess it wasn’t possible for this cup to pass from Him. And, more importantly, it wasn’t the will of God, His Father, to deliver Him. As a matter of fact, we are told in Isaiah 53:10 that it was the will of God to crush Him. Why?

““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

God, knowing He must judge sin, provided a way for sinners to be saved from His wrath by sending His Son to die in their place. Isaiah tells us that,

“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)

So, I ask you again, who killed Jesus?

Ultimately His Father was responsible. From the very beginning it was Gods plan to save us from our sin by sending His Son to die in our place. That is why Jesus tells us that there is no other way to heaven but through Him. Have you put your trust in Him?

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12, ESV)

If you have not put your trust in Him, consider John the Baptists words in John 3:36

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36, ESV)

Continue reading
  1276 Hits
  1 Comment
1276 Hits
1 Comment

Revive Us Lord!!!

Revive Us Lord!!!

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)

   Is God everything to you? Can you say with all confidence that if you lost everything, or had nothing to begin with, but God, that He would be enough? The Welsh revival of 1904 began when a pastor asked the youth of his church, “who is God to you?” The young people had many theological answers, but the pastor didn’t simply ask who He is? Rather, he asked who is God to you? At that point a young girl, who had been saved for just a few weeks, said, “He is everything to me. I love Him with all my heart.” That simple confession of her love for God convicted the hearts of those young people and they began to pray and weep and repent all night. Slowly the Word began to get out and the land of Whales was changed as the Holy Spirit revealed the lack of love in their hearts for God and for His Son Jesus.

   The problem in the hearts of those young people was that God was simply a part of their lives. God was nothing more than a convenience or a genie in a bottle at their disposal for whatever needs they may have had. When this young girl confessed God to be her everything, she was simply saying, “God is all I need.” And the faith of the other, more seasoned, “Christians”, was exposed as shallow and self-centered. But when their hearts were moved to a place of complete love for and satisfaction in God, revival broke out in the church and awakening among the lost.

   Have you stopped to ask yourself why our nation is getting darker when most of its people call themselves Christians? Shouldn’t we see the opposite taking place in a “culture of Christianity”? Perhaps one reason is because God is simply a part of their lives. He is, in the minds of most, someone who serves them, catering to their wants and desires. I spoke recently with a man who is “believing God” for the restoration of his marriage. But when he found out that she is never coming back to him, he discarded God as worthless and unloving because what he wanted wasn’t going to happen. My heart was broken for him! Somewhere along the way he had been told that God was there to give him whatever he wanted, to give him “his best life now."  “Just believe”, he was told. But when God didn’t meet his expectations, he no longer had use for Him. His faith was a selfish faith. Which is really no faith at all. Oh that he could see that God is all he needs, then revival would take root in his heart and he would begin to love his ex-wife, among others, with the love of God, bringing the gospel to her so that she might be restored to God and perhaps restored to him.

   Would you love to see a great awakening in our nation? Consider the fact, then, that judgment begins with the house of God.

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:16–17, ESV)

Did you hear what Peter said, “if judgment begins with us, what will be the outcome of those who don’t obey the Gospel?” Could he be telling us that once revival begins in the church, awakening will come to those who are lost in their sin? Read the whole book of 1 Peter carefully. The Christian is suffering for their faith, but in the midst of their suffering, they are glorifying Christ to the point that unbelievers glorify God in the end.

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” (1 Peter 3:1–2, ESV)

He also reminds them in chapter one that the reason we have joy inexpressible and full of glory is not because things are going good for us in this world, but because Things will be good for us in His kingdom. (Read 1 Peter 1:3-7)

   We need to acknowledge that we have made Christianity about us and not about God. We see God as part of what makes our lives full, not as all that makes our lives full. David tells us in Psalm 16:11, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.”  Why? Because it is God who makes known to us the path of life.

   So, who is God to you?

Continue reading
  1048 Hits
  7 Comments
1048 Hits
7 Comments

No Greater Love

No Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, ESV)

I read one of those stories in the Bible this week that I wish had never been recorded. You know the kind I am speaking of - one of those stories where you feel like you have to explain God's actions, or lack thereof. You will rarely, if ever, find this story the topic of a Sunday sermon. It is the kind of story that most pastors hope their congregation never reads so they don’t have to come up with an explanation or have their own confusion on the matter exposed. The story I am speaking of is found in Judges chapter 11. God has raised a man up by the name of Jephthah to Judge Israel and defeat Israel’s enemies. Before Jephthah goes out to fight he makes this vow to God.

“And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”” (Judges 11:30–31, ESV)

God gave Jephthah the victory and when Jephthah came home the first thing that came out the door of his house was his daughter, his only child. Yes, I said his daughter! I can hear the questions coming from you as you read, “Did God hold him to his vow?” “Did Jephthah go through with it?” The answer to those questions is yes and yes. But why, you might say? I don’t fully know. However, as I was reading this story and contemplating those very questions, I feel God gave me some insight as to why he included this in His word.

   One of the main reasons is to illustrate the foolishness of Jephthah’s vow. There was no reason to make such a boast. God had already called him to deliver Israel. His statement was rooted in pride and he paid a dear price for his foolishness. Notice the difference in his words as opposed to others God called to deliver Israel. When confronted by the Philistines in 1 Chronicles 14 David asked God,

“Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up, and I will give them into your hand.”” (1 Chronicles 14:10, ESV)

When Gideon was called of God to deliver Israel from their oppressors he asked God twice to confirm to him this is what God wanted him to do.

“Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water.” (Judges 6:36–38, ESV)

David asked God if this is what He wanted and Gideon asked God to confirm what He had already told him. They made no vow. Whereas Jephthah told God if he gave them into his hands, he would offer the first thing that came out the door. Jephthah’s vow was a boast to the Lord. “God I will bless you if you do this for me.” The truth is God deserves our praise whether he delivers us or not. And what reward can we give God but our faith?

The second reason I feel God included this story is to show us the faith of Jephthah. The truth is, he went against this massive army, trusting that God would be with him, and he was victorious. And when it came to following through with his vow he didn’t waver. Jephthah didn’t use God's name lightly. He knew that to invoke the name of the Lord and not mean what he said was to use the Lord's name in vain. The word vain means empty – a promise with no substance or action to back it up. The fact that Jephthah followed through with what he said he would do showed he believed in God, and, “without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6)

   Finally, Jephthah’s daughter gives us what I believe to be the greatest lesson from this story. She was a willing sacrifice. She didn’t respond to her father with hatred or astonishment, but simply said,

 “My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.”” (Judges 11:36, ESV)

Jesus tells us in John 15, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” She gave her life for her father. Her concern was for him. She becomes to us a picture of the sacrifice Christ made for us. We are foolish people – rebellious, boastful and full of pride. Yet Jesus laid down His life for us so that we might live. What amazing love and faith demonstrated by this young girl. I am sure her reward in heaven is great.

   I realize this may not answer all the questions about God that these verses conjure. Why didn’t’ God stay the hand of Jephthah as He did with Abraham when Abraham offered Isaac? I don’t know! However, the reality is I don’t have to explain Gods actions. Nor does He have to explain himself to me. All I have to know about Him is He is Good and worthy of my praise. If we are honest, we will be just as amazed, if not more so, by the fact that He placed His own Son on the altar for a people that didn’t love Him. Jesus willingly and obediently went to the cross for our sakes. Does that invoke love in your heart for Him? If so, you will offer your own life on the altar for the sake of His glory, for the sake of the one who calls you friend.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”           (Romans 12:1, ESV)

Continue reading
  1160 Hits
  7 Comments
1160 Hits
7 Comments

God Is Into Selfies

God Is Into Selfies

““Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female…” (Deuteronomy 4:15–16, ESV)

   That men and women are patently full of themselves is evident in this world of social media in which “selfies” reign. We are consumed with our own image. I don’t need to elaborate much on this because we all know that the moment we are tagged in a photo on Facebook, we will stop what we are doing to see what that photo is. Sometimes we are shocked by what we see, sometimes impressed, but we are never indifferent to that photo. Why? Because our image: who we were, who we are and who we will become, is the most important thing to us. We are concerned that any image taken of us would be a true representation of who or of what we would like people to think that we are.

   Therefore, if we, imperfect as we are, are concerned with how people perceive us, how much more is God, perfect as He is, concerned that we see Him as He truly is? For that very reason God is into “selfies”? He has conveyed to us who He is. He does not want us to make images of Him; rather He has revealed to us, in Scripture, a clear understanding of His nature and His character so that we don’t misrepresent Him in any way. To do so would not only be offensive to Him, but potentially catastrophic for us.

   Consider with me the time Moses asked God for a “selfie “. He had just been used of God to deliver the nation of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. The demonstration of God's power was like nothing men had seen since the time He rained fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah. And yet, Moses was not content with simply seeing God move in power, but he wanted to see Gods face. Frankly God was pleased with Moses’ request, but told him, “You can’t see me and live.” “However, I will tuck you into the cleft of this rock and cause all my glory to pass by you.” Listen carefully to what God said to Moses in that moment.

“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”” (Exodus 34:5–7, ESV)

Do you see what happened here? God didn’t simply hold a camera out, smile, click and send. Rather, He told Moses, by His words, who He is, forever fixing upon the mind of Moses the image of His forgiving, merciful and just nature.

   How would this impact Moses and the people of Israel? Fast-forward with me to a time when God told Moses He was going to destroy the people because of their wickedness and unbelief, and start over with Moses. Listen carefully to what he says to God as he intercedes for the Israelites.

“Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, ‘It is because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, ‘The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”” (Numbers 14:15–19, ESV)

Wow! A whole nation was saved and spared from God's judgment because Moses didn’t rely on his own understanding of God, but on what God revealed and indelibly planted upon his soul.

   The picture God wants us to have of Him is the picture He has taken and so carefully preserved in the Bible. When we post our own image of God, it tends to be who we want Him to be, rather than who He really is. If you look closely enough at that image you have made of Him, I dare say you will see your own image. But when you allow God, no matter the cost to yourself, to show you who He is, He, along with His nature and character, will be an image planted firmly in you. Therefore, when others look at you, they will see Him.

   By not accepting God's offer, Moses showed the people who God is – “A God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, who will by no means clear the guilty…” Does the world see Christ in you?

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17–18, ESV)

Continue reading
  1666 Hits
  3 Comments
1666 Hits
3 Comments

When Did The Gospel Become The Gospel To You?

When Did The Gospel Become The Gospel To You?

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”             (1 Peter 1:8–9, ESV)

   Do you find Peter's words to be true in your life? Do you, despite your circumstances, have the ability to rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory because you are a Christian? If not, maybe you should consider the title of this blog. “When did the Gospel become the Gospel to you?” When is it that the Gospel of Jesus Christ became good news to you?

   We have all received good news in one form or another. Maybe that news came in the form of being chosen for a position in a Fortune 500 Company. Perhaps it came when the doctor told you the tests for cancer came back negative, or that your cancer is in remission.  You may also have been the recipient of a grand prize or an inheritance unlooked for. All of these are a cause for celebration in our life. But I submit to you there is no greater cause for celebration than to be on death row for a crime, of which you are guilty, then suddenly acquitted of that crime. One moment you are being prepared to receive a lethal injection, and the next moment you are told that your debt has been paid. You are free to go, just as if you had never committed the crime. Why?  Because the one you committed the crime against, paid the price for you with His life.

   While this may sound incredible to you, and even a little foolish, it is exactly what happened 2000 years ago on the Cross of Christ. We are told in Isaiah 53:5,

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)

Christians, who experience fullness of joy, are the ones who recognize that passage is speaking of them.

“But Jesus was pierced for my transgressions; Jesus was crushed for my iniquities; the chastisement that brought me peace was upon Jesus, and with the wounds of Jesus, I am healed.”

   Do you recall a time you experienced the mercy of God? Do you remember when you experienced the Gospel of Christ resulting in the forgiveness of sins: the salvation of your soul?  If so, you will be able to love Him, though you haven’t seen Him, to believe in Him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

   Maybe you can recall that moment you experienced the Gospel of Christ, but you have let the cares and worries of this world overshadow your joy. If so, seek to set your mind on Him, “the author and finisher of your faith”, remembering with David in Psalm 16:11:

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV)

Continue reading
  1055 Hits
  5 Comments
1055 Hits
5 Comments

Do You Know God

Do You Know God

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8, ESV) 

The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.

                                                                                                                           William Lane Craig                                                                                                                                                                      

  Dr. Craig’s words seem to contradict the very heart of our Constitution – that it’s mans right to pursue happiness: to have his own property, his own religion, his own guns and his own ambitions. But when I look at our nation, I see misery. Though we are the wealthiest people on earth, we are also, it seems, the most dissatisfied. How can this be unless it is because men are seeking happiness apart from God instead of in Him? They say God, with His rules, only wants to restrict our ability to enjoy life, forgetting that God's rules are there to protect our lives and draw us to a source of eternal happiness, namely Himself.

   Do you find that you are content to know Him, or does your happiness come from having something other than Him? Do you need God and something attached to Him, or is He enough? When you need something attached to God for your happiness, then you will be miserable people, because the things of this world are temporary. When God is enough, however, you will find true happiness no matter your circumstances. He may give you a beautiful home, a new car, and a beautiful spouse and kids, but when those things are gone will your joy go with them? No, because God, who has given you Himself, will never be taken from you. Therefore Peter says in his first epistle that we have “joy inexpressible and full of glory, the salvation of our souls.”

   The key to finding true happiness begins with humility. We must be willing to lay down our lives for Christ’s sake. Pursuing Him means leaving all our dreams on the altar and making Him our chief pursuit. Andrew Murray, in his book Humility, writes,

“Man's chief care, his highest virtue, and his only happiness, now and throughout eternity, is to present himself as an empty vessel in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness.”

                                                                                                                                                    Andrew Murray

 Jesus, being God, emptied Himself and became a man filled with God. He glorifyed God in His death that we might know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ His Son. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was happy to do this for us:

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV) 

   Do you see your sacrifice, the laying down of your life, in terms of “the joy that is set before you” – that is, to know God?

 

Continue reading
  1039 Hits
  4 Comments
1039 Hits
4 Comments

God Knows

God Knows

 

 "God saw the people of Israel - and God knew." Exodus 2:25

   What a statement about God and his loving care for the Israelites! God is not a distant God. He knows! So often we look at this attribute of God with fear because He sees everything we do. But have you ever considered the idea that God sees and cares?  Yes, he cares about our sin! So much so that He sent His Son to die for our sin so we could live with Him for all eternity. The children of Israel were in bondage to the Egyptians, and God demonstrated His care for them by sending Moses to deliver them. We are in bondage to sin and God demonstrated His care for us by sending His Son to deliver us. The Apostle Paul understood this well…

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8, ESV)

   Having this knowledge should make us the happiest of all people! You can just imagine the relief felt by the children of Israel as they watched the Egyptian army be consumed by the waves of the Red Sea: their enemy, the oppressor of their souls, gone, and nothing but freedom ahead with God at their side. And yet, almost immediately they began to complain, accusing God of bringing them out of Egypt just to kill them.

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”” (Exodus 16:2–3, ESV)

   Wow! Can you believe their lack of trust especially after witnessing the greatest display of liberation the world had ever seen? We are amazed at how quickly they forgot, but what about us? We are recipients of the greatest act of liberation the world will ever see! For we have been freed from the bonds of sin and death. And yet, we, like the Israelites, somehow forget that God saved us to give us a future and a hope.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10, ESV)

   God looks upon your plight and knows. He knows your needs, your desires, your joys and your sorrows. “He will never leave nor forsake you.” You are His! He didn’t go through such pain just to leave you to the wolves. Therefore, be glad oh Christian, for the God of all creation loves you!

Continue reading
  5132 Hits
  8 Comments
5132 Hits
8 Comments

Community

Community

Hello Calvary Ruidoso!

   On Sunday I asked if you all knew the vision of Calvary Chapel Ruidoso. I didn’t wait for an answer, however, the blank stare in your eyes gave me a strong indication you had no idea. What you may be suprised to know, is that as I considered that question, I had no idea either. The last few years have turned into a time in which I was just going through the motions: have a message ready on Sunday, have a bible study on Wednesday with engaging questions, and try to keep a men’s group afloat as we challenge each other to live for God. In other words, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, rather than what I was inspired to do.

  Thank God for new beginnings! The greater vision at Calvary Chapel Ruidoso is simply to love God, love each other, and love the lost. We place a strong emphasis on the teaching of God's Word in order that that vision will be realized in the context of God's glory by seeking to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

   Having said that, I believe God has a specific work to do in us this year. I believe He desires for us to be a community: a community of “Born Again” men, women and children that seek Him together. While it is true that each one of us is a temple of God in whom God’s spirit dwells; it is also true that we are simply one brick in a greater building that is called God's church and the Body of Christ. Paul tells the Corinthians that:

   “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–7, ESV)  

 We are blessed in order that others might be blessed through us to the glory of God.

   Our challenge this year is to discover together how God intends us to serve here at Calvary Ruidoso. I look forward to seeing how God will grow each one of us to a place of maturity in Christ, so that we might be effective vessels of His Glory.

Pastor John

Continue reading
  810 Hits
  10 Comments
810 Hits
10 Comments