From “God, Are You There?” to “God, Do You Care?”


Both my study of the Scriptures and my experience as a pastor have fully convinced me of this truth: When heaven seems silent, God is still there and He still cares! As I’ve said here before, we must remember that God always answers our prayers with one of the following:




Our God has encouraged us to come to Him at all times with all our requests:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who k nocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

We all find ourselves in difficult seasons of life. From finances to family . . . wellness to work . . . relationships to retirement. When the storm winds of life begin to blow, we drop to our knees and go to the throne of grace. Why do this? Because not only have we been invited to do so, we have been commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Like any good father, God wants us to come to Him with everything . . . including the many challenges of daily living.

But there are those times when it seems like heaven is silent, and our hearts’ cry changes from “God, are you there?” to “God, do you still care?”

But this is not for you! Sadly, many Christians have expanded the textbook definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result—to include their time before the throne of grace. We pray a few times and do not perceive any answer . . . so we stop praying. We reason, “I prayed about that last week and this week and nothing happened, so what’s the point in praying more?”

This is a mistake of gargantuan proportions! In Luke 18, Jesus told His disciples the Parable of the Persistent Widow for the express purpose “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1 NKJV). God has given us clear instruction to seek Him in all things . . . and to keep seeking Him. We are to ask . . . and keep on asking. We are to knock . . . and keep on knocking. And on those occasions when we do this and receive no answer, it is not “insanity” to keep doing it. It is faith—faith in the One who has promised and proved to be faithful.

So . . . not knowing where this finds you today, let me ask you: Is there anything keeping you from continuing to ask, seek, and knock? God is there for you and God most definitely does care for you. You have His Word on it! He cares for every aspect of your life on this side of the grave and throughout all eternity. If God knows the number of hairs on your head—and He does—He knows exactly what you need right now and He is giving it to you. It may not look they way you want it to look, but you can be sure, God is giving you exactly what you need. Remember, God has promised to meet all of your needs . . . not all of your wants.

“Do not be anxious about anything,” we are told in Philippians 4:6, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” God’s command is quite clear: do not be anxious about anything; pray about everything. And the promised reward is just as unambiguous: “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:8).

So keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking! Everyone who faithfully persists in prayer will eventually find the open door, the door God has opened in His perfect timing and according to His perfect plan for your life. May this truth encourage you today and every day you spend walking with the Lord in the land of the living.

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

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The Highest Title For Any Human Being


Can you guess what the highest title is that any human being can achieve in this life? I’ll give you a clue: it has nothing with accomplishment or achievement on the job. In fact, it is not a title that can be awarded by any man or group of men.

The scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)

Did you know that, in all of sacred Scripture, only Abraham is referred to as a friend of God? Yes, we read that God spoke to Moses “as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11), but only Abraham is actually called God’s friend.

And yet you may have more in common with Abraham than you think! Jesus said something quite remarkable when He told His disciples that they were no longer slaves or servants; they were now His friends:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends. (John 15:13-15)

That is your truth today if you are, by grace through faith, in Christ. Have you transferred your trust to Jesus Christ as your only hope for eternal salvation? If your answer is YES, then Jesus calls you His friend!

Now that is a word of eternal encouragement! Now, we all must remember what it really means to be a friend. Being a friend is not simply being someone’s “acquaintance.” Friendship speaks of an intimate, personal, loving relationship. And that is your relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; Jesus calls you His friend!

How does that make you feel? How does that speak into your life right now, today, right where this finds you? Regardless of what you are facing—in your personal life, your professional life, your academic life, your relationships—Jesus counts you as His friend, and that should give you a peace that passes all understanding.

Notice that the Scriptures say, “Abraham believed God,” which is the key that unlocks the doorway leading to friendship with God. We must believe God, not just believe in God. James sternly warned, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder” (James 2:19). It’s not enough to believe in God; we must believe God and take Him at His word. We must trust Him even when we cannot trace Him. We must be willing to follow God wherever He leads us, especially when He is taking us in a direction we don’t necessarily want to go.

Remember, friendship with Jesus goes both ways. He is your friend and you are His friend. He did not bring you this far to leave you where you are today. What He began in you He will one day bring to completion.

Be encouraged! Be inspired! Be strengthened by knowing that your friendship with God can never be broken. You have the highest title anyone could ever have! Let that truth set you free.

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

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E Pluribus Unum


You may be familiar with the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unumout of the many, one. You see this 13-letter phrase on the Great Seal of the United States, carried in the beak of the Bald Eagle. It was intended to communicate the message that out of the many states emerges one single nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I’d like to use that phrase to offer you a word of great encouragement: there is an eternal E Pluribus Unum that has been given to the church by its leader, our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul explains it to us in the following passage.

As a prisoner for the Lord I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Here we see the eternal E Pluribus Unum: out of the many, one. To be sure, we are diverse in countless ways:

  • Race
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Appearance
  • Social standing
  • Gifts, talents, and abilities

But at the same time, we are to find our unity in our diversity. All of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ are totally united because of the One who has united us. Notice in the passage above that Paul says, “Make every effort to keep [maintain] the unity of the Spirit.” This unity is not something we create when we are brought into the church; it is a gift that has been given to us from on high. Our role within the body is simply to maintain our unity because, as the church of Jesus Christ, we are one body and one spirit united by a common purpose: to glorify God and expand the cause of the kingdom of Christ.

Think about it this way. As a member of this “one body,” you are part of something bigger than just your own life. You are part of the kingdom of God. You have been called by God to expand the borders of your life out to the boundaries of God’s kingdom. Never are you to shrink the borders of your life down to the borders of your life! Living for the Savior (rather than for self) is living a life of transcendence. It is living a life of meaning, purpose, and significance. It is living a life that truly matters.

So . . . how does that make you feel today . . . knowing that you were made to live for something bigger than your own life? I hope you feel encouraged today to live in the light of eternity—today and every day until you are received into glory.

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

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Faithful Finisher


We all live lives marked by unfinished business. How often we start out well, only to find our dreams unrealized and our goals unaccomplished. But this is not so for our Lord. God always finishes everything He starts . . . and that includes what He starts with YOU!

The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24)

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (Psalm 138:8 ESV)

These are words of incredible comfort for the people of God. Our God does not abandon the works of His hand. What God begins, He finishes. His every purpose will be accomplished exactly as He has planned. His promised purpose of a new heavens and a new earth will one day be accomplished. His promised purpose of a new humanity—a people for Himself—will one day be accomplished. Nothing can thwart the purposes of God. He who begins . . . will bring to completion. He who starts . . . always finishes.

There certainly would be no comfort in thinking that it is up to us to complete what God begins in our lives. If this were true, our faith would falter and our hope would be hollow. We would experience no lasting victory against the world, the flesh, and the devil. We would be utterly lost! But God does not get our salvation started and expect us to keep it going by the spiritual sweat of our brow. God begins in grace, He carries on in grace, and He will one day complete in grace. The same grace that saves us also sanctifies us, and God will not stop one step short of the finish line, when we will be perfected and received into glory.

He will complete what he appoints for me . . . (Job 23:14 ESV)

Regardless of where this finds you today, let this truth set you free from anything that is hindering your forward progress. Yes, our lives are often marked by taking one step forward and two steps back. At times we find ourselves standing atop the summit and at others we are wallowing in the depths of the valley. But through it all, our God is conforming us more and more into the likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Remember, it is God’s perfect plan to adopt imperfect people and perfect them. He takes our mess—all of our mess—and turns it into His masterpiece. He takes what is broken and makes it whole, and He does it for the praise and glory of His name. It is His faithfulness to us, not our faithfulness to Him, that makes this promise sure. Do not doubt that your God will finish what He started in you. Trust Him to make good on His promise, and trust Him to do it His way and in His timing.

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

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The True Overcomer – Part III


This is the final article in our series on Jesus, the True Overcomer. I’ve stated that we are often urged to be overcomers ourselves; in order to do that, we must first fix our gaze on the One who overcame our sin, our unbelief, and even death itself. On Monday we discussed the first pillar of The True Overcomer: the active obedience Jesus displayed in His life. On Wednesday we examined the second pillar: the passive obedience He demonstrated in His death. Today we will look at the third and final pillar of the True Overcomer: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The angel said to the woman, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Job asked one of the most profound questions that can ever asked: “If someone dies, will they live again?” (Job 14:14). The answer to that suffering saint’s question is a resounding “Yes,” and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is indisputable proof. It is God’s stamp of approval on both the active and passive obedience of His Beloved Son. The Father demonstrated that He fully accepted the atoning sacrifice of the Son. And because the Son was raised from the dead, all those who have, by grace through faith, placed their trust in Jesus Christ will be raised from the dead as well.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

This is the fifth of Jesus’ seven great “I AM” statements recorded in the gospel of John, all of which point to the deity of Jesus Christ. Jesus was asserting that He has the power of both life and death. Jesus not only gives us life; He IS our life. Jesus not only gives us the resurrection; He IS our resurrection. By believing in Jesus Christ, we have life in His name. The resurrection of Jesus is the final, ultimate proof of His assurance in John 16:33—“Take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The German Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide once said this:

I accept the resurrection of Easter Sunday, not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event. If the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on that Easter Sunday were a public event which had been made known . . . not only to 530 Jewish witnesses but to the entire population, all Jews would have become followers of Jesus.

Let me close out this week of eternal encouragement about Jesus, the only True Overcomer the world has ever seen, with these words:

Jesus entered this world through a door marked

“NO WAY IN” – a Virgin’s womb . . .

And exited this world through a door marked

“NO WAY OUT” – a dead man’s tomb!!

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

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The True Overcomer – Part II


As I wrote in Monday’s blog, we all hear a lot of talk about “being an overcomer.” I said that before we can begin to understand the process of being an overcomer, we must first take a good look at The True Overcomer: Jesus Christ. Just hours before He was to be arrested and ultimately put to death, our Lord told His disciples:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

This series of articles was drawn from a sermon I preached at Cross Community Church, which outlined the three pillars that point to the True Overcomer: On Monday I discussed Pillar #1, His life, which was marked by His active obedience. Today I’d like to showcase Pillar #2—His death.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

In theological circles, this aspect of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ is called His “passive obedience.” The sinless Lamb of God took our place on the cross . . . He took your place and mine . . . He took our scourging . . . He took our nails . . . He took our crown of thorns . . . He took our death . . . and He did it all in complete passive obedience to the will of the Father. You’ll recall that in the Garden of Gethsemane . . .

Jesus fell with his fact to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matthew 26:39)

Jesus did not turn away from the cup that was handed to Him on that first Good Friday; He drank the full cup of God’s wrath and judgment for the forgiveness of our sins. In His passive obedience, Jesus overcame the world and there is no better place to see this truth than in the supernatural event that took place in the Temple at the moment of His death:

When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.(Matthew 27:50-51)

Ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, our sins have separated us from God, blocking our vertical relationship with our Heavenly Father. The Temple curtain was a visible symbol of this truth: only the High Priest could go past this curtain into the presence of God and this only one day each year to make atonement for his own sins and the sins of the nation of Israel. But Jesus overcame the world in His death and He has given us—both Jew and Gentile alike—unlimited access to God . . . any time, any place!

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.  (Hebrews 10:19-20)

The death of our Lord Jesus was the death of death. Jesus overcome it all by His active obedience—living the perfect, sinless life—and also by His passive obedience. He died in our place and paid the penalty for our sin . . . all of our sin . . . past, present, and still to come.

On Friday, we’ll examine the third and final pillar of the True Overcomer: His Resurrection.

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

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The True Overcomer – Part I


I hope to encourage you this week by expanding on a portion of a sermon I preached last month at Cross Community Church, entitled “The True Overcomer.” There is a lot of talk these days about overcoming this and overcoming that, but before we can begin to understand the process of being an overcomer, we must first take a good look at the One who is the True Overcomer: His name is Jesus Christ.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Notice first what our Lord did not say; He did not say, “I will overcome the world” or “I hope to overcome the world.” He simply stated, “I have overcome the world.” And remember, Jesus spoke these words just hours before He would be betrayed, arrested, beaten, nailed to a cross. When Jesus announced that He had overcome the world, He knew—He had told His disciples several times—that before the sun set on the next day He would be dead and buried.

In the eyes of the world and the disciples, Good Friday did not look like Jesus had overcome anything! Rather, it looked like the world had completely overcome Him. And yet . . . three days later, when Jesus got up and walked out of that tomb, the world was turned upside down!

This week we’ll look at the three pillars that point to the True Overcomer: Today we’ll examine Pillar #1, which is His life; on Wednesday, I’ll show you Pillar #2, which is His death; and on Friday, we’ll look at His resurrection, which is Pillar #3.

Pillar #1 – His Life

Jesus overcame the world by the life He lived. As you know, Jesus was not born on Good Friday; He was born on Christmas morning, so that He could live the life we could not live and fulfill the demands of the Law that we could never hope to meet. He fulfilled the Law of God completely—every jot and tittle of it—in order that we could receive His perfect righteousness, because we have no righteousness in and of ourselves. As Isaiah said, even our righteous acts are no more than filthy rags when compared to the perfect holiness of Almighty God.

In theological circles, Jesus’ perfect, sinless life is called His “active obedience.” In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)

In fulfilling the Law of God, Jesus earned for us the righteousness we could never get on our own. Scripture tells us that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Despite every temptation that the world, the flesh, and the devil could throw at him, Jesus’ perfect life—His active obedience—makes Him the True Overcomer.

One final note of encouragement for you before we close for today: during His wilderness experience and battle with the devil, remember what Jesus used as the source of His strength to overcome temptation: the Word of God. For each of the three temptations the devil threw at Him, Jesus responded each time by quoting Scripture—IT IS WRITTEN . . . IT IS WRITTEN . . . IT IS WRITTEN! That is the key to being an overcomer like our Lord. Study the Word of God—marinate in it and memorize it—and you will be well on your way to becoming an overcomer.

I hope you’ll be back on Wednesday, when we will look at Pillar #2—His death.

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

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