Wednesday, August 15, 2018

God's Mercy...

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." -- Romans 2:1
Over the years I have met a vast number of people who claim one major reason for not attending church. They believe that there are too many hypocrites in the church. The sad truth is; there are and always have been hypocrites in the church. As a matter of fact, our world is full of hypocrites. These are people who criticize others for doing the same things that they do. We are all hypocrites to some degree and we need God's mercy.
Paul addressed the "unchurched" and the "churched" in chapter one and two. In the above verse he speaks to those who think themselves to be without fault. But, he reminds them that God judges us all according to truth and every man needs the Lord's kindness that leads to repentance. Before we pass judgment on others, we ought to look in the mirror and seek God's mercy.
Our human nature will always be prone to see others as sinners and ourselves as righteous. But, let's be honest and take a closer look. We're all in the same boat and we need God's patient forgiveness. The next time you criticize someone, look in the mirror and take inventory. Don't judge hypocrites because you may be one. Be grateful for the riches of God's kindness and seek his mercy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Extraordinary Power...

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." -- Romans 1:16
Over 450,000 tons of granite was removed from Mount Rushmore while carving the four presidents. The process was quite dangerous since ninety per cent of the mountain was carved out using dynamite. With the power of this explosive, four sixty foot sculptures were carved out of solid rock. Dynamite is an extraordinary power to behold.
The word used to name Alfred Nobel's invention is derived from the Greek word found in this passage for power. The choice was quite appropriate, since such explosive power is needed to break the chains of sin and set the soul free. When there seems to be no hope, and the grip of sin is rock solid, the dynamite of the gospel is an extraordinary power to behold.
Salvation from the penalty, power and presence of sin is impossible with man. If you feel that religion has failed you and you are completely disconnected from God, try the Gospel. It is simply defined in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, "...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" For all who believe, the gospel is an extraordinary power to behold.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Heed His Counsel...

"But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." -- Psalm 81:11-12
I remember the day I bought my first motorcycle. The guy who owned the dealership gave me wise counsel for riding. His last words were, "The day you become so sure of yourself that you lose all caution, sell the bike". That day came, and I didn't sell the bike. Instead I went to the hospital with broken bones. Turning your back on wise counsel can be painful.
The Lord gave commands and counsel for the welfare of his people. Yet, they made a choice time and again to ignore him. Over time, after Israel refused to submit to him, the Lord "gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." As a result, the pages of the Old Testament record seasons of great oppression, hardship and national devastation. Turning your back on wise counsel can be very painful.
Do you ever find yourself thinking that you have a better idea than God? Have you questioned his commands and counsel, thinking that they were archaic and irrelevant for today? God's Word is timeless and is best received by submissive hearts. Those who do not listen will have a hard road to travel. Turning your back on wise counsel can be very painful.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Name...

"Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake." -- Psalm 79:9
There was a time when people were highly driven by their "family name". Children were told to live up to the family name and were expected to honor it on the sports field or battle field. Family members were considered responsible for their heritage and were instructed to never bring it disgrace. The name was everything.
The psalmist cried out for help and deliverance. What was his greatest concern? Was he focused on his personal safety and future? Or was his city and nation the key to his prayer? His request was centered on the most significant issue... "the glory of your name". Even his cry for forgiveness was made for the sake of God's name. The name was everything.
May we remember whose children we are and whose name we have inherited? May we live up to his name and honor it in all that we do? In our goals and prayers, may they all be for the glory of his name. The day is coming when all God's servants "will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads". (Revelation 22:4) The name is everything.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

He leads...

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -- Matthew 28:20
On April 18, 1942, four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle led a retaliation raid on Tokyo, Japan. General Henry Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Corps, directed Doolittle to only train pilots for the mission, believing that he was far too valuable to lose in battle. Doolittle chose not only to train the men, but also fly with them. He led the mission to its completion.
As much as those pilots were inspired and encouraged by the presence of their leader in 1942, so should every soldier of Christ be today. In an older Bible translation we find Jesus referred to as the "captain" of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). The word in the Greek language is archēgós, which means pioneer leader. Our Lord not only trains us for spiritual battle, he also leads the way, for he is "with us always, to the very end of the age". Jesus leads the mission to its completion.
Do you often feel like you're all alone in the battle of life? Are you pressed on every side with no one to whom you can turn? Well my friend, you have a leader who is with you and is leading the way. He is the "captain" of your salvation and as you face the challenges of every mission, remember to fix your "eyes on Jesus, the author (archēgós) and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). He leads the mission to its completion.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Responsibility...

"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”" -- Matthew 27:24-25 

Not too long ago a decision was handed down concerning a rape case in New York City. After a woman was raped repeatedly in the view of two NYC transit employees, the judge ruled that they had no obligation to do anything to help her other than to signal their superiors that police were needed at the station. The case is reminiscent of the Kitty Genovese murder in 1964, when a number of neighbors watched the stabbing without responding with help. When is someone expected to be responsible?
Social responsibility may be open to discussion, but spiritual responsibility is another matter entirely. When each person stands before God after they breathe their last, one question will be asked. "What have you done, in response to my Son?" Pilate wanted to be innocent of the blood of Jesus, but was that possible? Since "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) and only "the blood of Jesus... purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) "...how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3) Eventually, every individual person will be held responsible.
Have you found ways to "pass the buck"? Is the concept of personal responsibility archaic and  irrelevant to you? Are you aware that you have already made a decision about Jesus Christ, and you are responsible? John said it in 1 John 5:12, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." What have you done, in response to the Son? The truth is; no one is innocent and everyone is responsible.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fear or Faith?

"After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly."  -- Matthew 26:73-75
The stories of prisoners of war can be most distressful. The mistreatment and humiliation can be overwhelming for the strongest soldier. As time passes some are unable to hold on and they eventually betray their allegiance to home and country. Fear can be an overpowering influence.
Peter was filled with fear. The events of the previous hours included a determined promise that now concluded in devastating failure. The will to prevail gave way to a humiliating betrayal. Peter crumbled under the pressure of opposition and the threat of death. "I don't know the man!"... Fear can be an overpowering influence.
In the battle for spiritual victory, you will face overwhelming opposition. There will be moments when the pressure will be unbearable. Fear will fill your heart and tempt you to deny the Lord in one way another. But remember the words of an older and wiser Peter in 1 Peter 5:9, 11 "standing firm in the faith" the Lord will "make you strong, firm and steadfast." Faith can be an overpowering influence.