Author Archives: Pastor Tommy

About Pastor Tommy

Pastor Tommy is the senior pastor of Cross Community Church (PCA) in Deerfield Beach, FL. Rev. Tommy Boland is his official title. Pastor Tommy often seems too formal. Most everyone calls him "Coach".

The Believer’s Boomerang

Throwing plain boomerand, midair

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)

In God’s eternal economy, there is a fixed law for the redeemed: you cannot give to others without receiving yourself. Make no mistake, a generous person will indeed prosper, and whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. You have His Word on it!

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  (Luke 6:38)

Now, we should never give, serve, and help others because of what we will receive in return. We already have everything because we have Jesus. Yet the biblical principle stands firm; you simply cannot give without getting. I like to call it “The Believer’s Boomerang,” because the gift keeps coming back to the hand that released it.

I must make one thing perfectly clear: I am not speaking about the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which teaches that it is always the will of God to prosper His people with both financial and physical blessings in response to their financial donations, visualization, and positive confessions. In a word, this teaching is IDOLATRY; the believer would be using God to reach a desired goal or end.

To be sure, God does proper His people with countless blessings—financial, physical, and spiritual—but He is never obligated to do so. God’s blessing is never a result of His people using God to bring about a desired blessing. This would be like putting God on a leash and leading Him where we want Him to go. It would be binding the conscience of God and manipulating Him to do what you want Him to do for you. This thinking is entirely unbiblical, utterly wrong, and it is not for you!

When we give, serve, and help, simply because of the sheer joy of giving, serving, and helping—to love others because God first loved us—the Lord will return to us blessings multiplied. You cannot give without getting in return . . . when you are giving for the right reasons. And do you know who it is that gives for the right reasons? It is those people who, like the apostle Paul, know what they already have been given in Christ!

Paul exulted,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

No finite mind could ever begin to comprehend the depths of the truth of these words. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing because we are in Christ. Unlike our temporal blessings, which we will one day leave behind, these spiritual blessings will stay with us throughout eternity: our forgiveness . . . our acceptance . . . our adoption . . . our divine dwelling place in heaven. I could write an entire article about those blessings which will never fade away.

One final point on The Believer’s Boomerang: At the deepest level, the simple act of giving IS the greatest blessing, because in that act of selfless giving, we are most like our Lord.

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

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It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

it aint over

Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last. (Genesis 49:19 KJV)

Younger baseball fans may not immediately recognize the name of Yogi Berra, who was a star catcher for the New York Yankees from 1946-1963. But who among us has not enjoyed one or more of Yogi’s delightful sayings? The 18-time All-Star is credited with uttering such gems as . . .

  • “90% of baseball is mental; the other half is physical.”
  • “No one goes there [a popular restaurant] anymore. It’s too crowded.”
  • “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
  • “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
  • “It feels like déjà vu all over again.”

Commenting on these statements, which came to be known as “Yogi-isms,” Berra once protested, “I really didn’t say everything I said.” But there is no question that Yogi did utter the most oft-repeated “Yogi-ism” of all, which I have appropriated for the title of today’s message, a phrase that has tremendous significance for the Christian: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!

We have all suffered our losses and carried our crosses. But, because the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47), we must never forget that victory is assured “at the last.”

The tribe of Gad knew this truth by way of personal experience. There was a time when the adversary was too powerful and gained the upper hand in battle against Gad. But in the end, victory was promised to the tribe of Gad, and God delivered (1 Chronicles 5:18-20).

Do you know this truth in your own life? There are many times when we may believe that we have been overcome by our adversaries. Jesus Himself told us that trouble would be our constant companion in this life. It should come as no surprise to any of God’s people when adversity attacks us and gets the upper hand. But we must never forget the last words of today’s verse from Genesis: we will triumph at the last! It has been observed, “All’s well that ends well,” and the triumph at the end is guaranteed to the Christian every bit as much as the trial in the beginning.

What difficulties are you facing today? What adversaries are coming up against you in your personal and professional life? Don’t be surprised when the enemy gets the upper hand from time to time; this has been promised to the people of God. But never forget that “at the last”—and nothing comes after “the last,” for it is the end—your victory is assured. Omniscience uttered this truth and Omnipotence will make good on it in your life.

Perhaps one of the best ways to look at life is to view it as a marathon race, not a sprint. In a sprint, one misstep can cause us to lose the race. But in a marathon, our adversaries may be getting the best of us for a time, but in the end, when we have come to the end of our race, we will receive the crown of glory, which has been promised to us by the King of glory (1 Peter 5:4). Patient, faith-filled endurance is the key to getting through all the trials you are currently enduring.

There was a time when the world believed it had gotten the best of Jesus. They tried Him in a kangaroo court. They condemned Him to death, even though His judge declared that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death (Luke 23:15). They beat Him until he was unrecognizable (Isaiah 52:14). They jammed a crown of thorns into His forehead. They nailed Him to a cross. They laughed and mocked Him as He hung there. They buried Him in a tomb that was sealed shut and guarded by Roman soldiers. Good Friday was, in the eyes of the unbelieving world, a day of great victory; finally they had rid themselves of the One called Jesus the Christ. He was dead and buried.

But at the last, on that first Easter morning, a dead man got up and walked out of the tomb. Jesus triumphed at the last, and so shall you, regardless of what it is you are facing today.

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

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From Darkness To Light

bought

When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a aloud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”  (Mark 15:33-39 ESV)

In first-century Jewish reckoning, the sixth hour was noon and the ninth hour was 3 p.m. The Scriptures tell us that on that awful day when our Lord was crucified, at midday darkness covered the whole land and it became as midnight. Jesus had endured a criminal’s crucifixion—the scourging, the crown of thorns, the nine-inch nails driven through His feet and hands. Now He hung spread-eagled on a wooden cross, and our Lord entered into the most terrible aspect of His crucifixion, which can easily be missed because it is largely unfathomable to human understanding.

The darkness that the Scriptures describe reflects the removal of the Father’s fellowship from His precious Son. From all eternity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had existed in a perfect fellowship, love, and glory . . . until this day. It was one thing for Jesus to suffer at the hands of wicked men who were used of God to punish the sinless Savior in order to make atonement for sinners like you and me; but now, as darkness enveloped the land, the Holy Father unleashed His full fury and judgment for sin on Jesus Christ and turned His back on His beloved Son, who hung there bleeding, gasping for each tortured breath, dying to pay the penalty for all our sins—past, present, and future. The excruciating physical pain Jesus endured during His crucifixion, which is truly difficult for most of us to imagine, was little more than a mosquito bite compared to the horrific supernatural pain He endured—a mind-shattering anguish no Christian will ever have to experience: being forsaken by the Father.

The darkness that enveloped Jerusalem was not the result of some natural phenomenon, such as an eclipse, cloud cover, or dust storm, as unbelieving naturalists would have us believe. This darkness was a supernatural sign from God to the watching world. Midday became as midnight while God judged the One who knew no sin in the place of those who had known only sin ever since Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden.

Luke’s Gospel reports that “The sun was darkened” (Luke 23:45). In the original Greek, we would read this statement as “The sun failing.” The One who spoke the world into existence and hung it on nothing sent this supernatural darkness so that we might understand the utter blackness of our sin and the dreadful damage that sin has caused.

Darkness in the Scriptures is often associated with judgment against wickedness. Who can forget the darkness God sent to cover the land of Egypt as judgment against Pharaoh, who had stubbornly refused to let the Israelites go (Exodus 10:22-23)? The prophets often spoke of God’s judgment against sin that would be demonstrated in the form of darkness. Darkness is also used as a description of hell: “Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).

Between the sixth and ninth hour God poured out His cup of wrath and judgment on His precious Son, who was paying a debt of sin He did not owe for those who owed it but had no ability to pay. Forsaken by His Father, Jesus hung on that cross and endured the unthinkable darkness of sin and hell. The light of love between Father and Son that had existed from all eternity was now extinguished by that blackness that covered the land. Jesus experienced that “outer darkness” that you and I will never have to experience; He willingly took our place as our Substitute . . . our Savior.

Today is Good Friday, a day to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for our sins. Let us remember, not only the physical pain our Lord endured, as horrible as that was, but the supernatural pain of separation from His Father, which He endured so that we would never have to experience it.

Jesus experienced unimaginable darkness so that we could live in His glorious, eternal light.

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

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No Cosmic Killjoy

Unable-to-move

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.  (Psalm 16:11)

Far too many people in church today see our God as a “killjoy”—a dour deity frowning down on mankind with a stern cosmic countenance, looking for every opportunity to throw a bucket of water on the fire of our fun in this life.

Nothing could be further from the truth! This completely unscriptural notion is a lie from Satan; it smells like smoke and comes from the pit of hell. Our God is no cosmic killjoy!

The psalmist knew the truth about God’s plan for His people. God placed Adam and Eve in Eden, which in Hebrew means a “garden of delight . . . a garden of pleasure.” In other words, Adam and Eve inhabited a garden of joy in the presence of God. God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to experience joy—not only daily, but moment by moment. And that joy was to be rooted in their relationship with the Lord God.

That sane opportunity exists for you and me today. The key that unlocks the door leading to joy will only be found in the presence of our Lord.

There is something important for you to know about God’s plan for His people; it did not change after Adam and Eve’s awful act of cosmic treason. The joy of the Lord would now come to us through a right relationship with His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. When we give our hearts to Christ, we begin the lifelong process of being filled with “eternal pleasures” at God’s mighty right hand . . . the place where Jesus sits right now.

John records this truth for us in these words of Jesus.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  (John 15:11)

The world promises us joy in every imaginable way—money, pleasure, possessions, power, and so forth. But in the end, the world can never deliver on its promises. Sure, we may find some joy and satisfaction for a while, but it never lasts. God has designed it this way. The only joy that is “complete”—that is, lasting joy—is the joy that comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is something to remember: a joyless Christian is really an oxymoron—a contradiction in terms. Jesus has promised to give us His joy, so when we find ourselves in a season where we are not experiencing His joy, we can be sure of one thing: we have moved away from God and allowed our hearts to beat for something smaller than Jesus.

So . . . how joyously have you been living lately? If your honest answer is, “Not very,” let me encourage you to appropriate the promises you have received from God. The psalmist said we will be filled with joy in His presence; perhaps a few extra minutes alone with Jesus will reignite the flames of joy in your heart, and that joy will flow into the hearts and lives of others.

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

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Jesus Came To Reverse The Curse

garden of eden

No longer will there be any curse . . . “For the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 22:3, 21:4)

What a word of encouragement these verses provide for us today! There is a time coming when there will no longer be any curse, for the old order of things—a world filled with sin, disease, death, and despair—will have passed away. But even before that great and glorious day, when Jesus returns and consummates His Kingdom completely, He is already reversing the curse inside of each one of us. That work began in us on the day that God, by grace through faith, raised us from death to life and we surrendered control of our lives to Him.

The curse was a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. God gave paradise to our first parents with only one prohibition—just one—and, sure enough, they did what they were told not to do and plunged all of creation into a cosmic curse. God first pronounced His curse upon Satan for deceiving the woman and tempting her to turn away from God; next, God cursed the woman, increasing her suffering in childbirth; and then He cursed the man, who would live a life of toil amongst thorns and thistles. It was a paradise lost.

But God also made a promise of blessing: He promised that the Seed of the woman would come to crush the serpent’s head. Jesus is the fulfillment of that divine promise. He came to reverse the curse. His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection destroyed the works of the devil. Jesus ultimately became the death of death.

Jesus made a way for us to get back into a right relationship with God. When we transfer our trust to Christ, we are given the first fruit of the reversed curse: our justification—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the first thing Adam and Eve lost when they sinned. They were in fear of God and ran from Him, hiding in the bushes. But Jesus has reversed this curse for every Christian. The Christian may approach God with “freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12). Yet that divine reversal will not be complete until we get to the other side of the grave . . . or until the day Jesus returns on the clouds of heaven.

So how should this truth instruct our lives? We must remember that, inasmuch as the curse was reversed when Jesus conquered the grave, we will continue to experience the curse on our way into glory. We are still broken people living in a broken world, and things don’t always go the way we hope or expect them to. When we find ourselves experiencing a bit of the curse in some area of our life experience, we must remember that the day is coming when there will no longer be any curse, for the old order of things will have passed away.

May that promise empower you to rise above the challenges of daily living, knowing that He who began a good work in you will one day bring it to completion.

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

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Spiritual Swampland

overflow river

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  (Psalm 119:11)

It has been rightly observed that a river without banks becomes a swamp. With no edges to direct the water, it does not move; it simply sprawls out and becomes stagnant. Well, the Christian without banks—that is, the “banks” of the Bible, which instructs us and leads us in the way we should go—will inevitably become a spiritual swampland.

So . . . how well have you protected yourself from becoming a spiritual swampland? The answer to that question will be found in the time you invest in meditating on and marinating in the Word of God.

The psalmist knew that the key to keeping his life from becoming a spiritual swampland was the Word of God. He was so committed to live according to the precepts of the Word of God that he hid the Scriptures in his heart to keep him from straying from the path of righteousness. But know this truth: we cannot hide the Word of God in our hearts if we do not spend enough time reading the Word of God!

The Bible is the inspired Word of the Living God, and it has been given to you so that you can know God and His plan and purpose for your life. There are 66 books in the Bible, but there is only one theme: Jesus Christ. The Bible is one Word, given from one God to one people; the more time we spend in it, the better we get to know the One who inspired 40 writers to write it in three different languages on three different continents over the course of 1500 years.

Today’s verse comes from the longest chapter in the Bible, and that chapter is all about the Word of God. As a pastor, I often recommend Psalm 119 to reignite the fires of faith for those who are drifting into a spiritual swampland. The psalmist not only expressed his absolute and unconditional love for Scripture, but he was also faithful to recognize and record the times he had fallen short of its demands.

This, of course, is the confession of all our lives: we sin and fall short again and again. But One came into this world who fulfilled the entire Law of God on our behalf, and His name is Jesus Christ. When we transfer our trust to Jesus, His perfect life becomes our perfect life because God the Father credits us with the righteousness of His beloved Son.

How much time have you been spending in the Word of God lately? Have you ever taken the time to read all the way through from Genesis to Revelation? Remember, the Bible is really God’s personal love letter to you. The Author of Life knows what is best for your life, and the best nourishment of all is found in the pages of sacred Scripture. Daily Bible reading builds strong banks in your life that will keep you from drifting into a spiritual swampland.

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

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Not A Toast…But A Boast

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I will boast only in the Lord.  (Psalm 34:2)

The world raises its glass and makes one toast after another to every imaginable thing under the sun. But for the believer, it is not a toast that we should be offering; instead, we boast in the only One who is worthy of our boasting!

I have nothing against offering a toast from time to time; but the life of the believer should be marked by boasting in the Lord. The psalmist David knew this truth. He did not raise his glass and toast to things smaller than his God. Instead, he raised his voice and boasted in his Lord. Nor did he boast about the things he did for the Lord; rather, David boasted about the things God had done for him.

The apostle Paul knew this truth too. Quoting Jeremiah, Paul wrote, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

To boast in anything other than God would be a bad thing indeed. To boast is to “puff oneself up in word” which is another word for pride, which is condemned throughout all the Scriptures. David and Paul were not encouraging us to engage in sinful boasting about oneself (braggadocio), as is the custom of the world we live in. Rather, they were exhorting us to give glory to God by boasting in His name—and not solely because of what He has done, is doing, and has promised to continue doing, but simply because He is God, who is worthy of our boasting! No one put this better than the prophet Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Have you been boasting in your Lord lately? Would those around you say that you are more likely to raise your glass to toast . . . or raise your voice to boast in the Lord? Remember, everything you have has been given to you, for it is God Himself who gives all men life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25). The more you have, the more you are in debt to the One who has given it to you. It is right to boast when we are boasting in our Lord. And the next time someone raises a glass to make a toast, perhaps you can raise your voice to make a boast in your Lord.

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

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