Category Archives: General

Humble, Not Grumble

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5)

When we are facing the storms of life, we always have two choices: We can humble ourselves before the mighty hand of Providence or we can grumble. I can tell you from personal experience that my sinful nature finds it far easier to grumble than to humble. In other words, it is easier for me to resist the providence of God, to “kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14), especially when His providence is painful, rather than to humbly receive it.

But this is not for you! This is not the way to live for those who see God’s sovereign hand behind everything that occurs in life.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

The Spirit of God moved in Peter to instruct us to submit and surrender to God’s providential workings in our lives, both the pleasant and the painful. And the only way we can possibly begin to do this is to see God’s mighty hand behind everything that is going on in our lives. God’s hand is behind our accomplishments and our adversities, our happiness and our heartaches, our triumphs and our turmoil. My seminary professor, Dr. R. C. Sproul, was fond of saying, “If there is one maverick molecule in the universe, you cannot trust God for anything. Either God is in control of everything or nothing.”

The Bible is filled with stories of those who understood this truth and lived by it against all odds. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and spent years in a prison in Egypt. But God was with Joseph and blessed everything he did. Eventually, Joseph was raised up to the position of second in authority over all of Egypt. A terrible famine struck the land, and Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. When they arrived, they got the food they were looking for and the forgiveness they could have never imagined.

Joseph made it clear that he saw God’s hand behind everything that happened in his life, including the reprehensible actions his brothers; he told them, “It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8). Joseph knew that God used even the sinful acts of his brothers to accomplish His perfect purposes. Joseph had a choice: He could have grumbled about his misfortune or humbled himself under the mighty hand of God. And because Joseph chose the way of humility, God did indeed lift him up in due time.

What God did for Joseph, He will do for you and me if we will exchange our grumble for humble.

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

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Accusation Unaccepted!

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

The great enemy of God and His people is Satan, who is also known as “the accuser.” Once a holy, beautiful, and righteous angel, Satan rebelled against God and was cast down out of heaven; he is now busily engaged in accusing believers in the hopes of destroying their testimony and discrediting them before God. But this Satan, who prowls around the earth like a roaring lion, has no teeth and his accusations are not to be accepted.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. (Colossians 1:21-22)

This passage from Colossians would come under the heading, “The Beautiful ‘BUTS’ of God.” For all those who have, by grace through faith, trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the assurance of God’s forgiveness and love is absolutely assured. Now, you can’t top Satan from accusing you and you can’t stop others from accusing you, but God will never accuse you. Because you are clothed in the righteous robes of Christ, you are totally and completely and eternally free from accusation. Because God pronounced judgment upon Jesus, who took our sin and nailed it all to the cross, there can never be any judgment against us. Because God pronounced the “guilty” verdict on Jesus, who paid the penalty for our sins in full, He will never make the “guilty” pronouncement on us.

Remember, all our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west, and that is a distance that simply cannot be spanned! We have been cleansed by the saving blood of the Lamb of God, and every one of our sins was wiped away the moment we trusted in Him for our salvation. We are free because of Jesus, and when Satan or anyone else sends an accusation our way, we are to promptly respond “ACCUSATION UNACCEPTED!”

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

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True Love

Summer Love Stories

“You bless the godly, O Lord; You surround them with Your shield of love.” (Psalm 5:11-12)

When we say that God’s love is unconditional, it’s important to make sure we understand what “unconditional” does not mean. It does not mean we are left unchanged. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis explained this truth:

To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God; because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labor to make us lovable. We cannot even wish, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities.

In essence, Lewis was restating God’s goal for us, which is expressed in Romans 8:29 – that we will “be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” God’s love is true love because God’s love is at work within us, changing us and conforming us more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. It has been well said that “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.” God is making us more and more lovable with each passing day. God’s love for us is growing and maturing us in our faith and making us more like Jesus in thought, word, deed, and desire. And this is His ultimate goal for every child of God.

Because God wants what is best for us, He refuses to leave us in the condition He found us in. True love takes us from self-absorption to self-sacrifice. True love takes us from self-centeredness to other-orientation. True love takes us from “my will be done” to “Thy will be done.”

Remember, this does not happen in a day, but daily. You are a work in progress, and it will take all the days of your life for True Love to make you perfectly lovable. Let that truth set you free to joyfully, passionately run the race God has set before you.

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

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The Hope In Hopelessness

Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)

A man named Jairus, who was the elected ruler of the local synagogue, sought out Jesus because his daughter was dying. He believed Jesus could heal her with a simple touch of His hand, and he fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his home and heal his daughter. Jesus graciously agreed to go, but along the way, He paused to heal a woman who had suffered from a bleeding condition for 12 years. While Jesus was still speaking to her, men came from Jairus’ house and reported that his daughter was dead. The hope Jairus had for Jesus to heal his daughter had now turned into hopelessness. Or had it?

We see in today’s verse that when the men told Jairus not to bother Jesus anymore because his daughter had already died, Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” To be sure, the circumstances in the life of Jairus argued against all hope. His daughter was dead. There would be no healing for his sick daughter. It was too late. Well, it was indeed too late for a healing because the girl had died. So instead of a healing, Jesus provided a resurrection from the dead. Whatever Jairus was thinking after being told his daughter was dead, he still had hope that Jesus could work a miracle. He maintained his hope in an utterly hopeless situation.

What Jesus said to Jairus then — “Don’t be afraid; just believe” — He is saying to us today. Whatever storm winds may currently be blowing into your life, look to Jesus and don’t be afraid, because the God of Hope is at work in your life. Nothing is impossible for God; and because of His great love for you, hope must be our response, regardless of what we are facing. Greater is the power that is at work within us than any power that can come against us. Let that truth give you hope in even the most seemingly hopeless situation.   

Remember, God brought water from a rock, rained bread from heaven, parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk across on dry ground, and raised Jairus’ daughter from death to life. What miracle do you need today in your life? Don’t be afraid; just believe.  

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

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Almighty Approval

They loved praise from men more than praise from God.  (John 12:43)

We all seek approval, but our sinful nature causes us to seek it in all the wrong places. We crave human praise, and we want family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – virtually anybody we come in contact with — to make a big deal over us . . . to make us feel important . . . to demonstrate that we have value.

What is so sad about this is that we are seeking the applause of man when we already have the approval of God. We need not seek God’s approval. We cannot earn it. We have it simply because God chose us in Christ Jesus before the creation of the world and saved us by the blood of Christ. Because of what Jesus did on our behalf, we have the Almighty’s approval, and there is nothing we can do to lose it. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Far too many people in the church today connect approval with accomplishment. They believe if they are successful in overcoming trials and tribulations . . . or are selfless in their service . . . or are sacrificial in their financial contributions . . . or perhaps all of these . . . then God will look favorably on them and give His approval. That just isn’t true! We do not prove our worthiness to God to earn His approval; we already have His approval simply because we are in Christ.

When the implications of this truth seize you, it is nothing less than life-changing. Almighty approval removes our guilt, our shame, our fears, our doubts, and our humiliation. God’s approval and acceptance go hand in hand. You are approved because of Jesus and you are accepted because of Jesus. It is all because of Him. You are approved and accepted because you are adopted into His family. When God looks at you, He sees you through the eyes of grace, clothed in the robes of Christ’s righteousness. You are perfect in His sight!

Now, here is an important truth to keep in mind: Inasmuch as we have the Almighty’s approval, it does not mean God approves of everything we do. God does not approve of our sin, but even in our sin, He still approves of us and accepts us as His children. God will discipline us for our sin, to be sure, as a father disciplines a child he loves, but he will never disown us. When we question the Almighty’s approval, we are denying what Jesus did for us through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection.

Here’s the bottom line: We all seek approval and acceptance, which is why we must keep our focus on Jesus, who not only approves and accepts us, He delights in us too!

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

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What You Can’t Forget, God Chooses Not To Remember

I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

The devil does everything within his power to keep you from living the life God is calling you to live. Now, there is nothing he can do to nullify your promised eternal life, but he can certainly impair your everyday life . . . if you allow him. One of the sharpest darts in the enemy’s arsenal is to weigh you down with the sins of your past. If he can keep you looking over your shoulder at what is behind you, it will keep you from looking up for the direction God is calling you to take.

It is important to understand that God choosing not to remember is not at all the same as God “forgetting.” God is omniscient. He knows everything all the time, and it is impossible for Him to forget anything. However, in His great mercy, God chooses not to remember the sins we have committed in our past.

Think about it this way: rather than treating us as our sins deserve, God chooses to forgive us and to remember our sins no more. He refuses to hold our sins over our heads by reminding us of our past mistakes. God has determined to cast all our sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17). Out of sight, out of mind . . . which is a promise that is simply out of this world!

Let me reemphasize that we do not serve a forgetful God. We serve a forgiving and faithful God who says He will never dredge up our past sins again. Therefore, me must not confuse conviction with condemnation. Conviction is when we know we have rebelled against God, are filled with a godly sorrow, and repent of our sins. Condemnation is of the devil, who keeps bringing up our sins to shame us and water down our witness for Jesus.

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). So the next time the devil hisses in your ear, “Look at what you have done now,” you can respond by telling the accuser, “I am forgiven in Jesus’ name — freely, fully, and eternally!”    

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

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Is Your Past A Springboard? Or A Sofa?

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead . . .  (Philippians 3:13)

Fire can be used to both build and destroy; memories will do the same. What you remember about your past can be used by God to build you up . . . or used by Satan to take you down. Some memories will bring you pleasure and others pain. That is why you must treat your past like a school: Learn the lesson that God has for you, but don’t live there. Use your past as a springboard into your promised future, not as a sofa to sleep on. Living in “If only I had done it differently“ will prevent you from living in the moment you have right now and keep you from being what God is calling you to be.

When you read through the Bible, you see just how faithful God is to His people, especially when they have been unfaithful to Him. You see, it is God’s faithfulness to you, not your faithfulness to Him, that keeps you secure in your saving relationship. God has never failed His people, no matter how badly they treated Him . . . and He will never fail you. When you treat your past as a springboard that propels you into His Spirit-filled future for you, you make it clear that you are fully trusting in God to use even your dumb decisions, damaging detours, and disastrous dead ends for His glory and your ultimate good.

Christian, your past does not equal your future. It is the devil who wants to remind you of your past and fill you to overflowing with regrets, fears, doubts, and hopelessness. The devil knows he cannot take you out of the hands of your Lord, but he sure can mess up your life along the way into glory, attacking you with gnawing guilt and relentless remorse.

But this is not for you! Choose to look to Jesus, listen to Jesus, and lean on Jesus, because He has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you, no matter what you do. Remember, God is not finished with you yet. You are a work in progress, and along the way you will mess things up. When you do, just keep looking to the One who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Allow God to use your past as a springboard, and He will take every setback and use it as a set-up for your cosmic comeback.

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

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Sow With Tears – Reap With Songs Of Joy

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. (Psalm 126:5)

I don’t know where this message finds you today. You may be riding the crest of a wave, feeling like you are on top of the world. Or perhaps you are feeling like you are being crushed under the weight of waves of challenge. But the psalmist is telling us that, regardless of our circumstances, we are to look past our challenges and struggles, knowing that the tears we shed today will be like seeds that will grow into a great harvest of joy and thanksgiving tomorrow.

I say it from the pulpit frequently: There are only three stations in life; you are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or heading back into a storm. So if you are riding the crest of the wave today, enjoying the blue skies and bright sunshine, get ready for the waves of challenge looming on tomorrow’s horizon. Jesus made it clear that His disciples will encounter trials and tribulations on this side of the grave. The curse of sin and cosmic brokenness in this world always finds its way to our door. And when it knocks, even if we don’t open the door ourselves, trouble will come crashing in, especially when we least expect it.

I wrote today’s message to exhort you to rise above the waves of challenge and see life from God’s perspective. Whatever you are going through, you will go through it. God has promised to get you to the other side. If Jesus does not take you out of your storm, He will take you through it, and He has promised to be with you every step of the way. Keeping this truth in view will strengthen our faith and grow us up into Christ.

Remember, weeping may indeed endure for a night, but you can be certain that joy will find you in the morning. You have His Word on that!

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

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The Bible Is A Book For Transformation, Not Just Information

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The great 19th-century evangelist/preacher D. L. Moody once said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” Clearly Moody was echoing what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith.

The Bible is the living and active Word of God, designed to change us from the inside out. This transformation, of course, is all a work of God’s grace, but it demands our participation. We are called to “renew our minds” (Romans 12:2), by reading, re-reading, and continuing to re-read the Word of God. The more we meditate on and marinate in the Word of God, the more God changes us and conforms us to the image and likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

Now, make no mistake, inasmuch as we are to have our own daily quiet time in the Word, it must not stop there. We are also to spend time in the Word with our family of faith. As I’ve said many times, we are saved individually, but we are saved to community, and it is vital that we engage in community study of the Word of God. Group studies allow for encouragement and accountability within the community of believers. When you know that others are looking forward to seeing you and hearing what you learned during your time of individual study, you will be far more motivated to do the work and show up to share. I like to call this, “Wielding the Word!” The more you wield it in view of sharing it and discussing it with others, the greater will be your transformation.

Remember, the Word of God is far more than history and maxims and stories of heroes of the faith; it is God’s self-revelation. It is God’s love letter to you, written to transform you into the person He is calling you to be and to empower you to live the life He is calling you to live.

How is it with you these days? How is God’s Word transforming your heart and your mind? And if it currently is not, what changes do you need to make . . . starting today? 

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

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Weary In Waiting, Not Well-Doing

Jesus said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4)

The apostle Paul exhorted Christian believers, “Let us not be weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9 KJV). This was a reminder to his brothers and sisters in the faith to keep on keeping on with their good works for God’s glory, regardless of the response they were receiving.

To be sure, there are any number of discouragements that can cause us to grow weary in well-doing. Yet today I want to encourage you not to grow weary in waiting. In my own experience, I grow far more weary in waiting than I do in well-doing.

If we are not careful, the deafening silence from God in seasons of waiting can be a source of great discouragement. We pray . . . we receive no response from God . . . we sense only silence from heaven. And so we do everything in our power to create our own noise to stir up both the silence and the stillness that rub against the grain of our soul. But God has ordained both seasons of well-doing and of waiting in the lives of His children.

Here’s the thing: when we keep going and sowing, we have a tendency to shift from working in the power of the Spirit to the self. We lose all sight of God’s timing and forget how much we need His help. Jesus knew His disciples would fail in their own strength 2000 years ago, and He knows His disciples will fail in their own strength today. When we realize that we are struggling in a season of waiting, we are to remember these words from the apostle Peter, who also struggled mightily with waiting while he walked with our Lord during His earthly ministry:

Do not forget this one thing dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)

The Lord may be silent, and that silence may stretch on far longer than we would like, but He is never disinterested in our prayers and our well-doing. May that truth set us free from growing weary in waiting. God will be glorified, others will be blessed, and so will you!

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

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