Thursday, February 25, 2016

What Does It Mean to Live the Gospel

I wish that I would have understood just exactly what the Gospel really meant years ago.  For many of us, the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus Christ came to save sinners from their sins in order for them to have a relationship with God Almighty.  It required a perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sins.  It required Jesus' death and resurrection which guarantees our salvation and future resurrection.  This is all true but it doesn't stop there. 

With that said, repenting of our sin and turning to Christ is only the starting point for the believer.  Because of the Gospel, the Christian is no longer under the bondage of sin.  We are free to live unto Him in the ways that He has called us to live.  Because of the Gospel, we don't speak the way that we used to.  Because of the Gospel, we don't long for the things that we once did.  Because of the Gospel, we have new priorities and desires in our lives.  Because of the Gospel, we now have a fulfilling mission in our lives.  Because of the Gospel, we have a future hope and confidence for each day.  Because of the Gospel, we have something to share with those who are lost in their sin.  Because of the Gospel, our families spend time with God's people in worship.  Because of the Gospel, we sacrifice and serve others.  Because of the Gospel, we give to our church.  Because of the Gospel, we're blessed to be involved in a Gospel ministry.  Because of the Gospel, lives continue to be radically transformed.

For me, I'm learning that the Gospel changes EVERYTHING!  It is why I get up each day.  The Gospel is why the church must stay a Gospel driven church.  The Gospel causes me to live for Him and it keeps me looking forward to the blessed hope--Christ Jesus.  Paul said it well, that the Gospel  " the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)  

Prayer: "Father, help us to appreciate the richness and the cost of the salvation that You have blessed us with.  Help us to see that your desire is that we would reflect the beauty of Jesus Christ in our own lives each day.  May Your Gospel forever change the way we live our lives.  May Your Gospel guide our thoughts, words, choices, and the things that we take part in during this short life. Amen."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Transparency--Good or Bad?

I can recall over and over again mom and dad coaching us  kids that our best behavior was expected when visiting others--it did make sense.  Going to church even demanded that we conduct ourselves like angels with problem free lives.  I suppose there was some fear that others may not accept us or want anything to do with us if they truly knew we were not perfect and we had some bad habits or poor practices.  Many folks live life with fear that others will not accept them if they are truly seen for who they are.  At the same time, some people refuse to allow others to get too close to them because they know that the life that they are living would be unacceptable and is truly not Christian.  We can establish a safe zone where others are not invited to enter in because it only exists for ourselves and those who must see us for who we really are.  The problem is that we are truly not safe and we portray ourselves as someone that we are not.  It is amazing that we can even get used to living as another person for so long.

The psalmist, David, boldly petitioned the Lord to have free roam in his life in order to expose anything that should not exist in his life.  He prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"  (Psalm 139:23-24)  David cared most about God's view of him and he wanted to live in view of eternity and not for the moment.  As you read through the book of Psalms, David is very transparent and it even appears that he lived his life like a yo-yo in his relationship with God.  David repeatedly found his strength in the character and love of God and not in being someone else.

I'm afraid that too many times we are more concerned about our pride, how we look to others, and how others value us that we fail to understand that God ought to be our greatest concern.  You see, transparency is not a sign of weakness but of character.  It allows others to know that we are truly weak but yet we are made strong through the strength of Christ alone (2 Cor. 12:10).  Transparency allows others to see us for who we truly are and it allows them to see us trust God on the journey.  The goal of transparency is that God would be glorified as the Completer of our lives.  It allows others to glorify God as they see Him at work in us.  

Good behavior is indeed important--mom and dad were right.  However, let's be careful not to portray ourselves as another person when we know that he or she does not exist.  Others love broken people who are redeemed by God!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Does My Vote Even Count?

Let me say that at times I get very frustrated with the current situation in the world around me—especially with our government.  I know that the world is Satan’s domain, but I want the right things to always be done.  On this side of glory I know that Satan is on a mission but I want to stop him.

God has established a system of order, called government, that Christians are to operate under, support, and pray for.  The Biblical consensus is overwhelming that God appoints leaders, and is in control of those in power, and these verses appear to support this statement.  Please take the time to read, consider, and pray through these Bible verses.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” — Romans 13:1

“Jesus answered him (Pilate), ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.’”  John 19:11

By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;”  — Proverbs 8:15

“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;” — Daniel 2:21

“And when he had removed him (Saul), he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” — Acts 13:22

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.  It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.  — Psalms 75:6-7

“The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.” — Daniel 4:17

Whether or not we like who God has appointed is not the primary focus.  God reigns above all kings and kingdoms and He uses them for His purposes.  It may be punitive or corrective at times and it may even cause the advancement of the Gospel.  We cannot forget that God controls the heart of the king and is at work to accomplish His greater purposes.  It may appear chaotic and frustrating at times, but believers should walk in confidence by looking forward to the coming of their blessed hope.
Titus 2:11-14For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
As far as the question of voting goes, God expects His people to contribute to society in positive ways—which means casting our votes for righteous people and righteous ways.  Take heart that our God is sovereignly in control and nothing slips by Him without His permission.