Category Archives: General

A Week Without Worry, Part Three

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If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

I trust that the first two blogs of this week have provided some necessary insight into fighting the battle against worry. I have saved the best for last, because in all of sacred Scripture, I simply cannot find a better verse to help in this fight than the one we have before us today.

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans tells us we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) because God is for us . . . and if God is for us, it really doesn’t matter who or what comes up against us. The key that unlocks the door to living a week without worry is keeping our focus on Christ and not on our circumstances.

Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom knew this truth well; she explained it this way, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Worry wrecks our resolve and weakens our response to whatever it is we are facing.

Think about it this way: If the most important and life altering events are no longer a source of worry for you—if you no longer had to give one second of thought to worrying about . . .

  • Being forgiven (1 John 1:9)
  • Being forsaken (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Being forgotten (Isaiah 49:15)

– And if death itself has been overturned by Jesus rising from the grave and becoming the death of death, the there is absolutely nothing in your life that rises to the level of the need for worry! If God is for you, who can be against you? God has got you and God has got this, whatever “this” might be for you.

However, there is a death that is still required, and that is death to the self. The more you die to yourself, the more you can live for your Savior. The apostle Paul wrote that “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul trusted completely in Christ, and that trust turned any occasion for worry into an opportunity to witness to the faithfulness of his Lord.

Let me bring you one final point from the pen of the apostle Paul as we close out our week without worry: Make sure you are advancing in life from your knees and not your feet. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul wrote, “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).  

If God is for you . . . and you have His Word on it that He is . . . doesn’t it make sense that He would want to hear from you? Like any good father would want to hear from his children, your Heavenly Father wants to hear from you! And when you go to Him in prayer with whatever it is that is beginning to worry you, you have exchanged worry for worship, which is the true mark of the child of God.

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

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A Week Without Worry, Part Two

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. (Psalms 55:22)

We continue our series of articles on spending a week without worry by beginning with a verse that echoes the words of Peter that we closed with in Monday’s blog. David, who wrote Psalm 55, knew well that God could be trusted. Peter knew God could be trusted. How is it with you and me? Do we know this truth? Do we live it out in our daily lives?

When Jesus instructed us not to worry in His Sermon on the Mount, he did so by arguing from the lesser to the greater. He said that if God cares for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air, how much more will He care for you and me . . . we who are made in the image of God? Scripture tells us that God cares for everything He created, but man is the pinnacle of creation. God’s people will one day judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). You are the apple of God’s eye. In Monday’s blog, we saw that 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” When we keep His care for us in mind, we should be more than willing to cast our cares on Him.

There is another important point from our Lord’s sermon that we should keep in view. Jesus asked, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27). Worry is a thief. It captures our time and wastes our energy, having no ability to help or change the circumstances we are facing. Worry has no power to prevent anything bad or produce anything good in our lives, no matter how much time we spend engaged in it.

Here are just a few of the damaging effects of worry:

  • Insomnia
  • Daily fatigue
  • Ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Indigestion
  • Heart palpitations

As a pastor, I have learned the sad truth that the epitaph Died of Worry could be etched on far too many tombstones. Worry is having a divided mind, and a divided mind is as destructive as it is deadly.

Can you identify any of your own “worry” triggers? Do any of these resonate with you—feelings of powerlessness . . . feeling vulnerable . . . feeling that life is out of control? When you identify some of your triggers, you can be ready to respond appropriately by casting your cares on your Lord before those cares crush you under the weight of worry.

Remember, worry is a choice. You can choose to worry or you can choose not to worry by trusting in the One who can be trusted and who has proven to be trustworthy in the past. In choosing not to worry, you are not ignoring or suppressing those worrisome thoughts. Rather, you are sharing them with your Lord, who has promised to sustain you and care for you. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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A Week Without Worry, Part One

Therefore I tell you, do not worry . . .  (Matthew 6:25)

This week I am going to present a three-part series of articles that I hope will strengthen you to go through this week without worry. Worry affects us all, which is probably why the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (the phrase was repeated more than 20 times throughout the song) sold millions of copies. The song resonated within the hearts of so many because worry messes with our lives and weighs us down, as Proverbs 12:25 warns us.

Let’s begin by clarifying the difference between worry and proper care. We are to have the proper care and concern about life and the responsibilities that go with living it. We should anticipate the negative consequences of taking a certain action or failing to respond appropriately when we see trouble ahead. But we are never to be anxious about life because we have lost sight of our sovereign God, who can be trusted in any and every circumstance we face. Proper care produces practical steps for the circumstances of life, but worry paralyzes us.

There are many ways to define worry, but the biblical bottom line is that worry is a lack of trust in God—who He is and what He has promised. Each day presents us with myriad opportunities to worry, from our health to our home life to our finances to our future. Jesus added these specifics to our verse for today: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” And what is the reason why we are not to worry? Because God can be trusted!

After telling His disciples “Do not worry,” Jesus went on to say, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33). When we worry, we are not seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness; rather, we are trapped in the momentary circumstance and our fear is telling us that God is not big enough to handle whatever it is we are going through.

So how do we keep worry from watering down our witness? We must remember and act on these words from the apostle Peter:

Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

The next time anxiety begins to grip you, remember to cast whatever it is on Jesus, because He cares for you and He can handle whatever it is you are going through. I have reminded you of these great words from Charles Spurgeon before: “God is so good and gracious that we can trust His heart even when we cannot trace His hand.” Let that truth set you free from worry. And come back on Wednesday for some more ideas on how to spend this week without worry. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Almighty Advocate

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If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. (1 John 2:1)

An advocate is someone who supports, strengthens and stands in the gap for another. The Bible identifies the Holy Spirit as our Advocate, and it also identifies Jesus in the same capacity. Today I want to encourage you with a word about Jesus Christ, your Almighty Advocate.

First, Jesus is your Advocate at the moment of your salvation when God the Father accepts you as His own, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Here is what I imagine the conversation might sound like between Jesus and His Father:

Father, this one is mine. Yes, this person is guilty as charged. Yes, this person is dead in trespasses and sins, but you decreed in eternity past that My death would pay the penalty for this person’s sins and that My blood has cleansed this person from all unrighteousness. You put your stamp of approval on My work being totally sufficient for this person’s salvation when you raised Me from the dead. Not only now, but forevermore, there is no condemnation for this person because I was condemned in this person’s place.

Second, Jesus remains our Almighty Advocate forever and ever, for God’s Word promises us, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25). We were not only sinners in need of a Savior when we got saved, but we are most definitely sinners in need of a Savior every moment of every day thereafter. We still sin, and when we confess our sins, Jesus is faithful to forgive us, over and over and over again.

And don’t forget this. Because Jesus was fully man as well as fully God, He knows exactly what you have gone through, what you are currently going through, and what you will go through in the future. He knows your temptations and your suffering and your sorrow. He lived it Himself, yet without sin, and He can sympathize with you every step of the way into glory.

Remember, regardless of where this finds you today, your Almighty Advocate is not only for you, He is with you and He is in you. If you have any doubts about this, let me encourage you to pray that God would open the eyes of your heart to this truth, that you may rejoice that Jesus is your Almighty Advocate. He has loved you with an everlasting love, and His love for you and advocacy on your behalf will never waver. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Are You a Refresher?

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:24-25)

The simplicity in this proverb is supernatural in its impact. Read on and be greatly refreshed today!

What does it mean to refresh? The dictionary uses a variety of words to define the word refresh:

  • Restore
  • Revive
  • Renovate
  • Replenish

Perhaps the best way I can explain the biblical meaning of what it means to be a refresher is to be someone who makes the lives of others better! A refresher is the kind of person other people want to be around. Perhaps the best way to sharpen your understanding of being a refresher is to answer this question: Who in your life right now would you describe as a refresher? Who lifts you up whenever they are around you and shoulders your burdens with you? Who do you know whose glass is always have full, rather than half empty?

Refreshers shine their light into the darkness and help you see the way forward. They are quick to listen, quick to encourage, and always ready to serve. They have a tendency to make your world not only brighter, but better and even bigger. They help to enlarge your vision of yourself and the call God has placed in your life. Their encouragement empowers you to get up every time you fall down and to keep going even when you would rather not.

Does this describe the kind of person you are in the lives of others? If not, what is one change you could and should make today in order to become a refresher?

Don’t forget the promise in this proverb. Those who are refreshers of others are themselves refreshed. That promise will be true for you. You simply cannot refresh others without being refreshed yourself.

Remember, the greatest Refresher the world has ever seen is Jesus. Take a look at the way the Amplified Bible translates Psalm 23:2-3 –

He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures;

He leads me beside the still and restful waters. 

He refreshes and restores my life . . .

The more we refresh others, the more we are like our Lord. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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A Reasonable Faith

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Here is a great question that every Christian should be able to answer: Is Christianity a reasonable faith? Or is trusting in Christ’s atoning death on our behalf a blind faith? What is your answer? Let’s take a brief look at this and be both comforted and challenged today.

The English philosopher Francis Bacon correctly observed that God has given us two books as sources of truth: the book of God’s works (creation) and the book of God’s Word (the Bible). Within the pages of the Bible we see the inspired importance of the pathway to reason as we pursue truth for ourselves and for others.

“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18). We are not called to a blind leap of faith, but to a rational, reasonable faith. For the person who is willing to look through clear, objective lenses, God has revealed Himself in every aspect of creation. And if that person is willing to look through those same clear, objective lenses, God has revealed Himself on every page of the Bible. And within those inspired, inerrant, infallible pages of sacred Scripture, we find God exhorting us to study both of these books:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

(2 Timothy 2:15).

Today’s verse reminds us to be thinking Christians. We are to love God with every fiber of our being, including our mind. Sadly, for many who profess the name of Christ, their minds have not been transformed through the consistent and diligent study of Scripture. They hold to the same basic worldview they had before becoming Christians.

But this is not for you! Make no mistake, the proper use of reason is essential if we are going to share the truths of the Gospel in ways that connect deeply with unbelievers, and this will only happen when the mind is renewed. The single most important key to renewing the mind is knowledge. We read this promise from our Lord: “‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time,’ says the Lord. ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds’” (Hebrews 10:16).

As A. W. Tozer said so well, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our love for God grows as our knowledge of Him grows. The more we grow in our understanding of God, the more our heart beats for Him. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more the living and active Word of God will be in us!

Remember, the Bible makes it clear that faith in God is built upon substance, rooted in real evidence. “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Our faith is indeed a “reasonable” faith that, while renewing the mind, also the recalibrates heart and realigns the will. Let that truth comfort and challenge you to pursue God’s call in your life, regardless of the cost or circumstance. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Do Vs. Done

“It is finished!” (John 19:30)

The two words “Do” and “Done” look very similar, but in actuality the infinite chasm of all eternity lies between them.Please read on and be greatly encouraged today!

Before Kim and I were saved, we were visiting First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale. Every week, Pastor Larry Thompson would say during his sermon, “It’s not about a religion, it’s about a relationship.” It took a while for us to understand that biblical truth, but when we got it, we finally understood the immeasurable difference between the words “Do” and “Done.”

The religion Kim and I had grown up in was all about doing, doing, and then doing some more. The list of things to do was endless. We had been taught that heaven was available to all those who would do enough to get in. The great difficulty with this theology, of course, is how can you know when you have actually done “enough” for God to unlock the gates of heaven and allow you to enter? Sadly, you can never know, and because you don’t know, you never experience the freedom, joy, and peace that is promised to all who believe the Gospel.

True Christianity is about what God in Christ has done for us. What Jesus did for us we can never do for ourselves. Why? Because we are far too sinful to save ourselves! The Bible tells us that –

There is no one who does not sin (1 Kings 8:46)

The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men

to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt;

there is no one who does good, not even one.  (Psalm 14:2-3)

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Sinners need a Savior, and His name is Jesus Christ. Our verse for today, John 19:30, is perhaps one of the best-known in all of sacred Scripture, and it can be said in one word: Done!

The Greek verb teleo that is translated “It is finished” in our English Bibles means “To complete something, not merely to end it, but to bring it to perfection or its destined goal.” Christ’s work on our behalf is perfect; it is complete; it is done. Our sin debt was paid in full. Our salvation was fully accomplished and is fully secure in Christ.

It has been well said that Christianity begins with an historical “Done,” not with an experiential “Do.” Every other religion in the world is built upon the foundation of “Do.” Only Christianity stands upon the foundation of “Done.” For many of us, there is no more difficult truth to grasp than the truth that God saves us by His grace alone, not by grace plus our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). To be sure, there is much to do after we are saved, but our good works are the fruit of our salvation, not the root of it.

Let me ask you: Does your life reflect the truth of Do? Or Done? The difference between those two words makes all the difference in the world!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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When Working Doesn’t Work

To the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:5 NASB)

Seems like a strange statement, doesn’t it? You and I were raised in a culture that told us that if you want anything in this life, you have to go out and earn it. Well, there is a work that doesn’t work; knowing that truth brings with it a deep peace that can be found in no other way.

The “work” I am speaking about is the work of salvation. There are millions in the church of Jesus Christ today who are trying to work themselves into God’s good favor. They believe God is keeping score in their lives, and their ultimate goal is to have more points under the heading of “Good deeds” than there are under the “Bad deeds” heading. These men and women have sat under the preaching of a false gospel that essentially says that salvation comes to those who earn it by the spiritual sweat of their own brow. Oh, they acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, but their understanding is that Christ made the down payment on their salvation, but they must dutifully keep up with the installment payments.

Listen, we certainly do need to work for what we get in this life. You work a job and you get paid. You exercise and you get fit. You invest in a relationship and it grows. But when it comes to eternal life, there is no amount of work that will gain anything. When Jesus hung on the cross and cried out, “It is finished,” He meant what He said; the work of salvation was completed at Calvary and our sin debt is paid in full.

It is true that we are saved by works, but not by our works. It was the cross work of Christ—His sinless life, His sacrificial death, and His supernatural resurrection—that earned us the right to walk the pathway to Paradise. Our verse for today tells us that God the Father credits (or imputes) the righteousness of God the Son to all who believe the Gospel. This is not a righteousness that we possess within ourselves; rather it is a righteousness that is outside of us and must be credited to us from above. On the cross our sin was imputed to Jesus and His righteousness was imputed to all those who will but trust in His atoning death on their behalf.

Here is the crucial question: In what are you trusting? Do you believe you were saved by grace but must remain in that grace by your good works? Remember, the Scriptures tell us that He who began this good work in us will complete it Himself (Philippians 1:6). What God began He will finish. So instead of trying to work yourself into God’s favor, simply rest in your redemption, and you will experience the peace that passes all understanding, now and forevermore.

Now go to work—not for your gain, but for the glory of His matchless name and the growth of His kingdom!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Fully Known and Still Completly Loved

God is love. (1 John 4:16)

There is someone who knows you fully and yet still loves you completely. This One, of course, is our Lord Jesus Christ; read on and be greatly encouraged today!

The term theologians use for God’s all-knowing power is omniscience. God has always, eternally known everything . . . the past, the present, and the future. And that includes your past, your present, and your future. And yet, in knowing you fully, He still loves you completely.

Let’s be honest: Would you really want anyone to know everything you think? Would you want them to know your thoughts in those moments when you are discouraged or angry . . . perhaps when you are struggling with that “secret” sin that you think no one knows about? No? Neither would I. But the glorious good news of the Gospel is that it is that only when we have a sense of just how broken and sinful we really are does the truth of the unwavering, unending love of Christ begin to change our lives.

Think about it this way: God knows your every thought—past, present, and the ones that you will think every day in your future. You may have “secret” thoughts that you keep to yourself, but they are not kept from God. Not only does God know our every thought, He knows every word we utter before we even say it! (If you have any doubts about that, read David’s inspired words in Psalm 139:1-4). God knows what you ate for breakfast today and what you will eat for dinner tonight. He knows where you were last night and where you will be one week from tonight. He knows every aspect of your coming and going, and that includes every part of your life story—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

All that “knowing” should be reason for despair, except for the fact that in spite of being fully known, God still loves us completely. “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” our Lord assures us; “I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

I often speak with people who have a hard time getting over something they did in the past. “I just can’t forgive myself,” they tell me. Listen, we have all done things we really wish we had never even considered, much less done. But through it all, God has never once withheld His unconditional love from us. And here is the best way for you to be convinced of that truth: The next time your past tries to paralyze you from doing what God is calling you to do in the present, picture the cross. Jesus hung on that cross and died for your sins because He loves you. He has always loved you!

Do you know this truth? I am not asking if you know it intellectually; I am asking if you know it deep down in your heart in a way that transforms the way you see yourself and live your life. Remember, before their terrible fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were naked before God and before each other, and they were unashamed. When Jesus shows up in your life and covers every sin—past, present, and those still to come—with His precious blood, you are to experience that incredible feeling of being naked and unashamed, because you are fully known and still completely loved. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Safety in One Number…Not Numbers

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men.” (Judges 7:2)

Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase, “There is safety in numbers,” which is an aphorism that reflects the general truth that an individual is less likely to be attacked if he or she is part of a large group. If you’ve ever spent time watching television shows about wildlife, you’ve undoubtedly seen how predators wait for an unwary animal to wander away from the safety of the herd and then attack. Hence, there is safety in numbers.

However, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the safety you have in the One who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. In God’s economy, there is not safety in numbers, but in One. Oh, what a word of comfort we have before us today!

You may remember that the Lord God called Gideon to lead Israel into battle against the Midianite army. Gideon started with 32,000 warriors, but God told him he had too many. The Lord dismissed 22,000 men, and then sent another 9,700 troops away, eventually leaving Gideon with a small band of 300 men to battle against the entire Midianite Army. Safety and success for Gideon would not be found in numbers, but in the One who would give him victory.

Here is a biblical truth that will bring you cosmic comfort: With God on your side, you are always on the winning team. As Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Every great hero of the faith we read about in Scripture understood this truth by way of personal experience. During King Hezekiah’s reign, the Assyrian army was preparing to sack Jerusalem and confidently ordered the people to surrender. But the prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah to trust in the One who could save him. He did, and that night the angel of the Lord put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp (2 Kings 19:14-37).

Remember, when you are battling “against all odds,” your safety will not be found in numbers, but rather in One. God has been faithful to deliver you in the past and He will deliver you once again. When the apostle Paul said he would boast in his weakness, it was because God had made it clear to Paul that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). No matter what you are facing today in your personal or professional life, face it in the strength of the One, and you can rest assured that God’s grace will be sufficient for you every step of the way. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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