NO MAN SPOKE OR WAS SILENT LIKE JESUS

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“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. (John 7:46)


Make no mistake, no man ever spoke the way our Lord Jesus Christ spoke. No one ever spoke such truth in so much love. No man every spoke such blessing over burden and life over death. But it doesn’t end there, because no man ever was silent the way our Lord Jesus Christ was silent. He refused to cast His pearls before swine.

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. (Matthew 27:12-14)

As our sin-bearer, Jesus knew there was no defense of sin, so He spoke not. He made no defense for Himself, not even in the slightest degree, for He knew the task at hand as the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world . . . bound and silent before the great Judge of the universe. The world is always trying to explain its way out of one predicament after another. Self-justifying is the way of the sinful heart. But He who knew no sin but rather became sin for us remained silent when a single word from His lips could have ended all of His pain and suffering. The prophet’s prediction was fulfilled, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Let this truth encourage you today! Jesus proved Himself to be the Savior of the world through the words He spoke and through His silence. His patient silence secured our salvation. Perhaps the lesson we should learn today is that there are times to speak up and there are times to remain silent. Let us, at every opportunity, speak up for the advancement of the cause of the kingdom of Christ. And let us, at every opportunity, remain silent for the advancement of the cause of our own kingdom. Let us not get caught up in foolish and stupid arguments, but let us speak the truth of God’s love for a lost and hurting world—a love that is displayed in all its radiant beauty by the person of Jesus Christ. This will assuredly make us most like our Master.

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

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COUNTERINTUITIVE CROSS

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Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:39-40)


When you look at a cross, what do you see? 2000 years ago, the watching world saw a defeated, dying man who claimed to be the Savior of the world. But God saw His perfect justice satisfied by His perfect Son, who triumphed through defeat. In the end, the cross is where we see the great reversal of the world’s values and where a countercultural kingdom was birthed by the death of its King. The cruelest instrument of death known at that time brought about the death of the world’s glorification of power, position, and prestige . . . and brought eternal life to all who place their trust in the crucified One.

On the hill Golgotha, Jesus won through losing, gained through giving, and achieved ultimate status through unimaginable service. The cross creates a countercultural kingdom in which its citizens see life as God intended it to be. Success is achieved through the service of others, not at their expense. Power is used to advance the cause of the kingdom of the Savior, rather than the kingdom of self. Forgiveness is now given freely and without exception to all those who have offended or wronged us. The cross of Christ creates a kingdom that is marked by love for God and love for others, regardless of the cost or circumstance. This is what I call a cross-shaped life.

Does this define your life today?

The cross of Christ made no sense to the watching world, but it makes all the sense in the world to those who have been transformed by it. Jesus died that we might live. But the life Jesus calls us to live is a life marked by the death of the self. If Jesus is to increase in our lives, we must decrease. If Jesus is to rule over our lives, we must surrender and submit. If Jesus is to lead, we must follow wherever He leads. And because Jesus is the King of this countercultural kingdom, He will often lead us in directions that seemingly make no sense . . . which is why we are to navigate through this life, not with a compass, but with a cross. It is only when we view life through the cross that we will begin to live a cross-shaped life.

Remember, it was on that cross that Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” Why was an ignominious death on the cross necessary? The answer, of course, is as profound as it is personal: it was necessary because of YOU! Now, that’s a counterintuitive cross. Remember that the next time you see one. And rejoice!

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

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WHAT ARE YOU SEEKING?

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Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. (Jeremiah 45:5)


There was a time when I sought greatness for myself. Oh, I sought it in my service to my God, but I did not realize it was the wrong “greatness” to be seeking. Today, I am a whole lot older and a little bit wiser; today I seek great things for God and leave the rest up to Him. This is the proper perspective for the child of God.

It must be the goal of the disciple of Christ to make God known in everything we say and do. To seek personal recognition or the applause of man is not the characteristic of the disciple of Christ; it is the mark of the worldling. When we find any applause coming our way, we are to point to the One who is the reason for our recognition. It is God who is to be honored. It is God who is to be exalted. It is God who is to be glorified. The true disciple of Christ sees the applause of man not as an honor, but as a hindrance to the fulfillment of the holy work that has been assigned from on high.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ . . . (Philippians 3:8)

These are the words of someone who sought greatness for His God, not great things for himself. Paul knew who he was before Jesus showed up (a sinner in need of a Savior), and he knew who he was after Jesus showed up (still a sinner in moment-by-moment need of a Savior). Paul gave God all the credit for anything he did worth crediting. Never did he seek the applause of man because he knew he already had the approval of God.

What are you seeking today? Whether your service to your God is noticed by many or unnoticed by all, God is not seeking “great” people to serve Him. Rather, God is seeking those men and women who will allow God to manifest Himself greatly in them – for His glory and the good of all those they come in contact with. Are you one of those people?

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

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THIRST THAT CAN NEVER BE SATISFIED

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Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. (John 4:14)


When you read today’s title and the verse from John’s gospel, they might seem to contradict each other, but I promise you that they do not. Read on! I hope you will be greatly encouraged and empowered to be and do all that God is calling you to.

When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well, He invited her to partake of “living water,” which is a symbol for the Holy Spirit. When Jesus gives us His living water, we are filled to the brim. We are brought out of darkness and into His light. We are raised from death to new life in Christ. We are completely delivered from eternal damnation and granted eternal life. But here’s the catch: the more we understand just how completely the waters of life have slaked our spiritual thirst and met us in our deepest place of need, the more we find that we have a thirst that can never be satisfied—but it is a thirst we had never experienced before.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians that he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” he was not saying he was satisfied. Paul was never fully satisfied with the relationship He had with Christ. He always wanted more of Jesus. He wanted to serve Jesus more. He wanted to love Jesus more. He wanted to be with Jesus more. This is the thirst that can never be satisfied on this side of the grave, and this thirst is a very good thing! And yet Paul was so deeply immersed in the living waters that he could say, “To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Can the same be said of you today?

If we ever find ourselves satisfied with our current relationship with our Savior, we can be sure we have been drinking from other wells. When we read through the life of Jesus in the gospel accounts, we see that His thirst for His Father was never satisfied. Luke’s gospel reports that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:14). At no time did Jesus cease from seeking communion with His Father in heaven.

Stay thirsty, Christian. Stay thirsty for the truth in thought, word, and deed. Stay thirsty, as Paul did, “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Stay thirsty for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ as you engage with a lost and hurting world. And know that only when you get to the other side of the Jordan will that thirst be eternally slaked.

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

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WHAT JESUS WANTS

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It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)


When was the last time you considered what Jesus is asking of you as one of His disciples? I often find myself speaking with many men, women, and students who have not given much thought to this all- important question.

Here is a word that should provide both comfort and challenge for you today, a word rooted in C. S. Lewis’s essay, “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”

Christ says, “Give me ALL. I don’t want just this much of your time and this much of your money and this much of your work—so that your natural self can have the rest. I want you. Not your things. I have come not to torture your natural self . . . I will give you a new self instead. Hand over the whole natural self—ALL the desires, not just the ones you think wicked but the ones you think innocent—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead.”

Lewis hit the proverbial nail right on its head; Jesus wants all of you . . . period! And why should He not want all of you? You are His by way of the most costly purchase the world has ever seen: His precious blood poured out on the hill Golgotha. Jesus died in order to bring you into a personal relationship with Him. And by purchasing you with His blood, He made it perfectly clear that His love for you is beyond measure. So why would you ever hold back any of you from Him?

Notice that Lewis said Jesus wants “all our desires.” We can have many very good desires without Jesus. I have often said from the pulpit that “Good things become bad things when they become ultimate things.” Our careers are good things, unless we begin living for them. Our children are good things, unless we begin living for them. Our good desires that do not keep Jesus on the throne of our lives are ultimately bad desires, which is why Jesus wants all of us.

Here is something to remember: There is only room for one on the throne of your life. Either you will be living for Jesus or you will be living for yourself. Who have you been living for lately?

Remember, when Jesus is on the throne of your life, your life will have a meaning and purpose that can be found in no other way. Jesus wants you because Jesus loves you, and He knows what is absolutely best for you—all of you!

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

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NOT WHAT YOU KNOW – BUT WHO

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The people who know their God will firmly resist him. (Daniel 11:32)


Here we are confronted with a universal truth – it’s not so much what you know, but rather who you know—when the Who you know is the all-knowing One. Those who know the one true living God will be the ones who stand firm when the storm winds begin to blow their way. Does this define you today?

Now, the “know” I speak of is not simply knowing certain facts about our Lord. Rather, it is knowing Him personally and intimately. First, it is knowing Him savingly, because you have trusted in Christ alone for your salvation. Next, it is knowing Him sanctifyingly, because you look to Him as your source of growing in holiness and godliness. You know His power; you know His presence; and you know His purpose for your life because you have taken the time to get to know Him.

It must never be enough to know things about God. We must settle for nothing less than a fresh encounter with the living God as we make our way through this life. The more we come to know Him, the more we will come to be like Him, and that is the goal of every child of God. As ambassadors of the Almighty, we are to be His ambassadors in this world so that those who see us will catch a glimpse of Him. When we speak, the watching world should hear God speak. And when we serve, the world should feel the healing touch of His loving, nail-scarred hands as we minister in His name for His glory.

How well do you know your God? Are you getting to know Him more and more through your time in His Word, on your knees in prayer, and in His house with His people? To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to want to know Him more and more until that day when we will stand in His presence unveiled and know Him as He is.

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

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NO END TO “AGAIN”

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I will see you again. (John 16:22)


Just hours before he was betrayed and arrested, Jesus gave His disciples a word of great encouragement, promising that He would see them again. He would be crucified, he would die and be buried in a tomb, but He would rise from the grave and see his friends again on the other side of His resurrection.

But that is not the end of “again.” In these words of Christ, we also see the promise of His second coming, when He will finally and fully consummate His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But even that is not the end of “again.” We also see in His words an “again” without end, for Jesus will see us again and again and again throughout all eternity.

Is it not true that our Lord’s promise to see us again is not only being fulfilled daily, but also moment by moment? Our Lord Jesus Christ has countless “agains” that He graciously bestows on us. Can you not hear His words of forgiveness—again and again and again—as you wander like a sheep away straying from your Shepherd? Can you not hear His words of encouragement—again and again and again—as you face giants of opposition every day? Can you not hear His words of victory—again and again and again—as you overcome the challenges that confront you on your way to the Celestial City? Can you not hear His words of peace—again and again and again—as you face trials, tribulations, and times of great unrest?

There is simply no end to His almighty “again.” If Jesus has been with you once, He is always with you, and nothing can separate you from His love. Regardless of what you might be facing today, you are not facing it alone. Omnipotence is with you and empowering you to “soar on wings like eagles . . . [to] run and not grow weary” (Isaiah 40:31), regardless of the obstacles that stand in your way.

To be sure, we all await that glorious day when the trumpets will sound, the heavens will open, and our Lord will return on the clouds of glory. But until that day, may we be reminded of these wonderful words from the lips of our Lord: “I will see you again”—now and forever more —world without end—amen.

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

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