WHEN THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE

thAre you facing any difficult circumstances in your life right now? Perhaps there is trouble at the office? Difficulty in your marriage? The challenge of a prodigal child? Sickness and disease testing the outer edges of your health? Or maybe financial troubles? Perhaps someone you love is dealing with one of these situations? Well, regardless of the seemingly impossible circumstances we might be facing today, we must remember that with God, nothing is impossible.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'” (Ezekiel 37:1-6)

Is there anything more impossible than making dead, dry bones come back to life? I think not! Unless, of course, God is at work. Because we are all broken, living in a broken world, we find ourselves in the middle of a valley of dead, dry bones from time to time. And yet God showed Ezekiel that He alone could breathe life back into those sun-bleached bones. This passage is as inspiring as it is instructive; it should remove any obstacle to our believing that our God can overcome anything we are currently facing.

Notice the rhetorical question God asks Ezekiel: “Son of man, can these bones live?” It’s not Ezekiel who asks if there is any hope for the dry bones; it is God. The Author of life can breathe new life into any situation . . . and that means any situation you are facing today. This is the God who created everything out of nothing, simply by speaking it into existence. This is the God who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead three days after His death on the cross. He can thaw cold hearts and make dead ones beat anew. The more hopeless the situation, the more hope we are to have in it. There is absolutely nothing our God cannot do, so let us not try to figure out His process. Simply trust in His promise!

Imagine for a moment that you are Ezekiel standing in the valley of dry bones. What possible process could he have conjured up to bring life back to those bones? It was unimaginable. For man, the feat was utterly impossible. But with God, Ezekiel knew, all things are possible!

By the way, notice how the passage opens:

The hand of the Lord was upon me . . .

The bottom line is this: when the hand of the Lord is upon you, you are in the absolute best of hands! Remember, greater is the power that is in you—power to accomplish anything—than the power that comes up against you. Let that truth give you all the hope you need, even in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation, because with God, the impossible will become possible!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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A SINGING SAVIOR!

imagesWhen was the last time you thought of your Savior as One who delights so much in you that He sings over you? If it has been a while—or if perhaps this idea never occurred to you before—prepare for a word of unimaginable encouragement and comfort this day!

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.(Zephaniah 3:17)

Reading through the gospel accounts, we see the clear and consistent evidence of our Serving Savior. Just one look at the cross reminds us of our Suffering Savior. But when was the last time we thought of our Singing Savior? And yet we read in Zephaniah that our Lord rejoices over us with singing! The Hebrew phrase “he will rejoice over you with singing” can be literally translated to read, “He rejoices over you with a shout of joy.”

I grew up in a home where my mother walked around the house constantly singing over her children. At the time, I wasn’t sure if her singing was designed to bless our hearts or buffer our noise. I know now. Kim and I have four children of our own, and they spent considerable time with Momma Boland each week. All of them commented on how “Bunka” (as they called her) would walk around the house singing over them. Her singing was a sign of a heart that overflowed with love for her children and grandchildren.

Well, today’s Scripture reveals that it’s the same way with our Savior. Jesus’ heart overflows with love for all of His children and He rejoices over all of us with singing. WOW! Here is a love with such a joyful outward expression, one that is designed to inwardly bless us at the deepest level. We are so loved in the sight of our Savior that He rejoices over us with singing!

You may find this difficult to believe; perhaps your picture is one of Jesus looking sorrowfully down from heaven, grieved—perhaps even angered—by your many sins. The thought of Him rejoicing over you with singing may be almost impossible for you to believe . . . but God’s living and active Word assures us that it is true! Your Savior is singing over you, literally shouting with joy, morning, noon, and night.

So . . . how does that knowledge make you feel today?

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3:14)

Like Momma Boland, who rejoiced in her Lord in song for the great gift of children and grandchildren, we should all feel like singing and shouting aloud to our Lord. To be sure, we find ourselves in times of trouble, times when our hearts are filled with sorrow and pain. But if we keep our eyes fixed on our Servant Savior, our Suffering Savior, and our Singing Savior, we will weather any storm and come out on the other side of it singing with shouts of joy to the One who loved us so much that He paid to redeem us with His precious blood—and who today rejoices that we are His.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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ONE THING – PART III

images (1)On Monday, we looked at the “one thing lacking” in the life of the rich young ruler, which was the only thing he truly needed. On Wednesday, we saw the “one thing needed” in Martha’s life, which her sister Mary had widely chosen by sitting at the feet of her Savior. Today we’ll close out this series of “one things” with the “one thing I do,” as presented to us by the apostle Paul.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

If your name ever gets into someone’s book with the phrase “one thing” attached to it, make sure it is this one thing that Paul set before the Philippians! Nobody wants to have the “one thing needed” or the “one thing lacking” attached to their legacy, when we see before us just how simple it is to have this “one thing I do” forever linked to the life we have lived.

Like the rich young ruler, Saul (Paul’s name prior to his conversion) had it all going for him in the eyes of the world. He was young, very likely from a wealthy family, he had been taught by the widely respected Gamaliel, and he was a member of the Pharisees, the prominent religious sect of Jesus’ day. Yet when Saul was confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he was willing to forsake everything he had once valued for the surpassing riches of Jesus. What Saul once possessed—noble birth, excellent education, religious zeal, good reputation, applause of man—obviously did not possess him. When Jesus called him, he let it all go; he forgot what lay behind him, actually regarding it as “rubbish” (Philippians 3:8) and strained ahead toward his calling in Christ.

Paul’s life was not marked by the avarice that had enslaved the rich young ruler or the tunnel vision that kept Martha working out her service to her Lord (which was a good thing), while missing a chance to sit at His feet (a better thing). Paul’s letter to the Philippians stands as a testimonial to a life lived Coram Deo—before the face of God. How easy it would have been for the great apostle Paul to be distracted with “much serving”—missionary journeys, strengthening the church, writing nearly half the books of the New Testament. Martha got sidetracked simply by preparing a meal! But with this “one thing I do” statement, Paul eliminated every possible distraction that could derail his ministry.

Notice the key in focusing forward on that one thing our Lord called Paul to: he was able to rise above his persecuting past and rest in his redemption and the call that his Redeemer placed on his life.

The inability to get past the past is one of the greatest stumbling blocks in the church today. Far too many Christians simply cannot get on with life because they are living in some painful past. The key is to learn from our painful past and not live in it. Paul had much to hold him back if he had allowed himself to focus on it. He had been persecuting the church, putting people in prison, and even held the coats of those who executed Stephen (Acts 7:58). Yet, by God’s grace, the same grace given to each of us, he was able to leave the past in the past and press on into his calling. Can the same be said about you?

This week we have seen “one thing lacking” in the life of the rich young ruler, “one thing needed” for Martha, and the “one thing I do” that kept the apostle Paul pressing forward. When the Lord Jesus Christ is our first priority, we can be certain that it will never be said about us that one thing is still lacking. We will have the Only Thing that truly matters in a life marked by the “one thing I do,” regardless of the cost or circumstance.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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ONE THING – PART II

imagesOn Monday we looked at the account of the rich young ruler and the “one thing lacking” in his life—the only thing he truly needed. Today I want to give you a different view of the “one thing needed,” as presented in the story of two sisters, Martha and Mary.

“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Jesus was welcomed into the home of Martha and Mary, who were preparing a meal for him. When Jesus began to teach, Mary stopped her preparations and sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to His every word. Martha, on the other hand, kept right on preparing the meal. Like the rich young ruler, there is much to be admired about Martha, at least on the surface. She was focused and faithful in her service to Jesus. She was busily engaged in the many things that were needed to complete the preparations for the meal.

Yet, once again, with all the good stuff that Martha was engaged in, to the penetrating eye of our Savior, there was still “one thing needed” in her life. Just as there was one thing lacking in the life of the rich young ruler, who seemed to have it all, Martha, in spite of her wonderful hospitality and focus on the task at hand, was still lacking the one thing that she needed most.

You see, the difference between the sisters, Martha and Mary, was that Mary knew when to stop serving and start sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary had left her alone to make the necessary preparations. So Mary had been, in fact, serving alongside of her sister. But Mary knew when sitting was more important than serving, and that is when you have the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus.

Do you and I know the same truth? We can be so busily engaged in doing the Lord’s work that we forget all about the Lord Himself. Giving our service to our Lord is a very good thing . . . but giving ourselves to our Lord is a better thing. Jesus made that clear by saying, “Mary has chosen what is better,” which was taking a place at the feet of Her Master.

What does the confession of our lives say about this truth? Remember, there was nothing wrong with the preparations Martha was making for her Lord. What was wrong was giving the work a higher priority over the Lord Himself. This is the message we are to glean from this “one thing needed” in the life of Martha, as we, like Mary, choose what is better than service: Our Savior!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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ONE THING – PART I

imagesThis week I’m planning to take a look at three different verses containing the same phrase—“one thing”—yet each occurrence conveys a very different meaning. It is my prayer that this week’s series of messages will prove as instructive as they are inspirational.

Here are the three passages:

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” [Jesus] said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Today we will look at the account of the rich young ruler, whom Jesus instructed about the “one thing lacking” in Mark 10:21. To the watching world, this man had it all together. Certainly, today’s society would regard him as a Very Important Person:

  • He was rich.
  • He was young.
  • He was a ruler.

This man would have been on the top of everybody’s party invitation list; he had everything going for Him! No doubt many of our churches would be scrambling to enlist him in a position of leadership.

Even when you look at the man’s spiritual condition, there was a great deal that seemed commendable, at least in his outward actions. Mark 10:17 relates that . . .

  • The man ran up to Jesus (earnestly seeking an audience with Him).
  • He knelt before Him (demonstrating humility and reverence).
  • He addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher” (a sign of respect).

Yet with all he apparently had going for him, the penetrating eye of our Savior discerned that there was one thing lacking in his life. This rich young ruler had everything a man could ever want except the one thing he truly needed: a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this because Mark’s account reports that after Jesus had spoken, “The man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Mark 10:22).

You see, the problem for this rich young ruler was not that he had great possessions; rather it was what possessed him. His stuff was more important to him than his Savior. He was utterly unwilling to give up his possessions and take up his cross and follow Jesus. This “one thing lacking” was the only thing he truly needed: Jesus as Savior and Lord over his life.

So . . . do you feel that there might be one thing lacking in your life? I hope you’ll be back for the next two blogs. We’ll be looking at this concept some more!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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WHEN IS IMPERFECTION PERFECTION?

downloadThat’s an odd question, isn’t it? At first glance, we all know that imperfection cannot also be perfection. The two words are antonyms; you simply can’t have perfection when there are imperfections! Yet in today’s passage we see that there is indeed a time when imperfection is perfection.

When this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:12-14)

“This priest” is our Lord Jesus Christ, and after He had completed His work—sinless life, sacrificial death, supernatural resurrection—He ascended back into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

It is important to understand the significance of our Lord sitting down. In the Old Testament Levitical priesthood, there was never a time for the priest to sit down because his work was never done. Every morning and every evening—one sacrifice after another sacrifice after another—the priest was busy offering sacrifices for the sins of the people. This tells us that these sacrifices that could never fully atone for sin; they were intended to point us to a better and perfect sacrifice. And when Jesus Christ came as the unblemished Lamb of God, His sacrifice was accepted as payment in full for all sin, once for all!

The next thing I’d like to point out in the passage from Hebrews is that by His sacrifice Christ “has made [past tense] perfect forever those [you and me] who are being made [present tense] holy.” In other words, in the eyes of God we are already perfect because we have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ. And yet, in the reality of daily living, we are not yet perfect; we are being made perfect.

We know this to be true by way of personal experience. We realize that we are far from perfect; on many days, perfection seems to be completely out of view! Yet because we are in Christ, God chooses to see our imperfections as perfection because they are covered by the blood of His precious Son. Every sin—past, present, and those to come—has been forgiven in Christ and covered by His blood. Someone once said that another way to explain this amazing truth is to think of the word “justification” as meaning . . .

Just as if I’d never sinned!

Think for a moment of how graciously God chooses to deal with us: He chooses to see us only through the perfect radiance of His Son. He chooses to love us in spite of our massive imperfections. He chooses to take our current mess and turn it into His eternal masterpiece. When we live in the light of this truth, we begin to live for nothing smaller than Jesus, the One who took our imperfection and made it perfect.

So when is imperfection perfection? When Jesus has covered it with His precious blood!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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CHRISTIAN COPERNICAN MOMENT

untitledIt was the sixteenth-century Polish astronomer Nicolai Copernicus who proved that the theory of an Earth-centered universe, which had been taught by Aristotle and Ptolemy, was not accurate. Copernicus proposed and proved that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of our solar system.

A “Copernican moment,” then, is when we realize we are not the center of the universe, but rather, the Son of God is. Instead of everything revolving around me, everything revolves around Him.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.  (Psalm 33:6-9)

Everything in all of creation, including you and me, is under the rule and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian Copernican moment is a great grace of God! To realize the truth that we are not the center of the universe frees us to live for the One who is. It also frees those around us to live according to His purpose, rather than ours.

Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created by God to live for God, which meant God was the center of their universe. God was to sit upon the throne of their lives. They were to find their identity in God. They were to find their purpose through God. Tragically, our first parents chose to remove God from the center of their universe and put themselves there.

You know the rest of the story. Man was never meant to be what only God can be—the center of all things. Only when we center our lives on Jesus do we begin recapturing the humanity lost when our first parents turned away from God. We simply cannot know who we truly are apart from God being our center and the focal point of life.

You see, life is not about the expansion of our own little kingdom, which is exactly what Adam and Eve sought to do in the Garden of Eden. Life is about the expansion of God’s BIG kingdom, which means that all of life—our work, our families, our dreams, our goals, our agendas, our recreation, everything—is to be centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.

By him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

It is my prayer that you will start this day and every day after with a Christian Copernican moment that keeps Jesus at the center of every aspect of your life.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!    

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