Friday, July 31, 2015

Jesus is the resurrection and life.

John 11:25-26 Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?"

Jesus is the resurrection and life. Without the resurrection, there is no life. If Jesus had not risen from the grave, no one would make it into heaven. We would all be bound for hell because our righteousness is as filthy rags. We cannot be good enough on our own for heaven. We would be spiritually dead with no hope of life.

The resurrection opened the door of heaven for all who would believe in Him and accept Him as Savior and Lord. The resurrection is God's exclamation point on the work Christ completed for us at Calvary. There Jesus took the condemnation of all sin upon himself. He overcame Satan's hold on the sinful soul. He took the worry and fear of death away from those who believe. He connected us with God and made available to us all the resources of heaven to help us live righteous lives before God.

The resurrection is God's guarantee that all who believe in what Jesus has done for them, confess their sins to Him, seek His forgiveness, and let Him into their hearts will be saved and live forever with Him.

The question is not whether or not it is so; it is whether or not you believe it is so. And, if you believe it is so, are you living like it it is? Eternal life with God awaits those who trust in Jesus for their salvation and live godly lives.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Kingdom of God is not limited to my part in it.

John 10:16 "I have other sheep too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd."

I used to not think too much about this statement from our Lord, but I have come to recognize just how important of a statement this is. We tend to have a very narrow perspective when it comes to the family of God. In our heads we know that there are Christians everywhere; in our hearts we want them to be just like us. We want others to think like we do, act like we do, and worship like we do. When they don't, we tend to question their experience with God.

The Kingdom of God is not limited to my part of it. There are many valid ways to experience God, live for Him, and understand Him. It's okay if others are radically different than I am. As long as Jesus is the only way, truth and life, we should have no problem with the faith expression of others. It is God who straightens up the messes of our thinking, not us.

Jesus said that there is only one flock and shepherd. He is the shepherd and all who know Him as Savior are the flock. The labels we put on doors and identify ourselves with mean nothing to the Lord. All who have a heart connection with Him are His children, which means that we are brothers and sisters.

We need to check our hearts and be sure that we are loving those whom Jesus loves. We need to set aside those things which keep us away from one another and start acting like a family should act. If we don't, we are living in disobedience to the Lord who commands us to love one another. Actions speak louder than words; are your actions speaking love?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Satan is a notorious thief.

John 10:10 "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."

Satan is a notorious thief. His sole desire is to rob the soul of God's presence. If he fails at that, he will work hard to rob the soul of God's peace and joy. If that doesn't work, he will work to destroy the soul's fruitfulness and effectiveness as a witness for Christ. Satan will never stop doing his best to undermine the influence of God on one's soul and living. His sole passion is to steal, kill and destroy from the soul God's presence and influence.

On the other hand, Jesus came to give life at its best. Jesus' sole passion is the good of the soul. He came to set the soul free from Satan's hold on it. He came to free the soul from its sinful past and sure judgment of God. He came to give life, not take it away.

Not only that, Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness. He doesn't want to just give us enough life to get by; He wants to give us the very best that life is. There is so much more to life in Christ than we can even imagine. No matter how much we indulge ourselves in His life, there is so much more He wants to give to us. And this life in Christ we enjoy now is but a small sampling of what life will be like in heaven. For the godly, the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

You can't climb over the fence.

John 10:9 "Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. Wherever they go, they will find green pastures."

You can't climb over the fence. There is only one way to enter into the Kingdom of God and that is through Jesus. God has made no other provision for our salvation. Our goodness, good lives, families, theology, or church can't save us. Everybody is on equal footing; we need a Savior. We are all sinners and until Jesus takes up residence in our hearts, we are bound for an eternity in hell. There is absolutely nothing we can do to change God's mind about us. We are a stench in His nostrils until Jesus changes us into a sweet aroma before God.

Jesus is the gate. All who allow Him to enter their heart will find all that they are looking for in life. In Christ we find green pastures for our souls. We find all that we need for healthy living---both for now and for eternity. Any other pasture we may try to graze in will lead to our starvation and death.

God has great things in store for all who enter through the Gate. For many, they come to the Gate and think it is not for them. They convince themselves that where they are at is better than what is on the other side of the Gate. Some believe that the Gate will not open for them because of what they have done. Some come to the Gate and start looking around for other ways to get to the green pastures. Some will come to the Gate and linger for awhile where they are at, thinking there is plenty of time and that the Gate will always remain open for them. Some will think it's got to be too good to be true and refuse to come near to the Gate to find out. Some will even deny that there is such a Gate.

I am so thankful today that I took God at His word and came to Him through the gate. I can't imagine what life would have been like for me outside the green pastures of His grace. I don't even want to think about it. I find in Him the best life that could possibly be lived. He satisfies my every need and desire. It can't get any better than this! Thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul and giving to me the abundant life found only in your green pastures.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Desire greater understanding.

John 9:34 "You were born in sin!" they exclaimed. "Are you trying to teach us?" And they threw him out of the synagogue.

It is easy to hide behind what we think we know. Sometimes our knowledge becomes our enemy. It can blind us and deceive us into thinking we know it all. Sometimes we rely on what we know instead of Who we know. We shut the door to the possibility that we can learn anything new. The longer we are in the faith, the more tendency we have to quit learning. We may even rebel at the thought that we might need to learn something new, or even change the way we have been thinking about things. Satan will sometimes convince us that we have perfect knowledge and that everyone else needs to conform to our way of thinking. It is true of us, and it is true of many churches.

Pastors, teachers, and church leaders are especially prone to rest in what they know and shut the door to the possibility of their thinking being wrong. Think about it. When was the last time you heard from the pulpit a preacher admitting that in his study of God's Word he discovered that he was wrong in his understanding? Have you heard anyone lately proclaim something new they had discovered? How long has it been since you gained new insight and understanding of God's Word? Shouldn't we be open to new understanding so that we can grow in grace and truth?

Don't become proud and arrogant over what you may know to be true. Meditate upon God's Word with an open heart and mind. Let the Spirit of God guide you into all truth. If you do, He will.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Christ alone makes us righteous before God.

John 8:39-41 "Our father is Abraham, " they declared. "No," Jesus replied, "for if you were children of Abraham, you would follow his good example. I told you the truth I heard from God, but you are trying to kill me. Abraham wouldn't do a thing like that. No, you are obeying your real father when you act that way."

Abraham lived a simple life. He believed God, trusted Him explicitly, and did what was right before God. God was pleased with him and declared him to be righteous. He honored Abraham's faith and promised that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed and that his descendants would be so great in number that they could not be counted. It was through Abraham's lineage that Christ came into the world to be our Savior.

Jesus was addressing the religious elite of His day who depended on their own righteousness for their salvation. They were a very proud people who insisted on others looking up to them and obeying them. They were set in their ways and would not consider any other way but their way. They depended on what they did to make them acceptable to God.

Jesus stopped them in their tracks. He made it very clear that self-righteousness will never make us children of God. God was not their Father, Satan was. We need to examine ourselves as well in light of what we are depending on for our salvation. It's not about what we do or try to be; it's about our relationship with God through Christ. Only Christ can make us righteous, acceptable to God. He is the only way to God. No one can please God apart from living life through Christ. Salvation is found nowhere else but in Christ who died for our sins.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Christ's disciples live godly lives.

John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

It's one thing to claim to be a disciple of the Lord, but it's another thing to actually be one. The litmus test of discipleship is obedience. If a person is not living by God's Word and following His commands, then one is not a true disciple.

A disciple is knowledgeable about the Word of God. He consistently and regularly reads and studies it. He waits before the Lord so that he can understand what he reads. He makes it a point to find ways in which he can apply to life that which the Lord helps him to understand.

A disciple lives a godly life. He does not excuse his sins, but seeks the Lord's forgiveness whenever he needs it. He does not try to alter the Word to suit himself. He does not compromise it in any way. He does not argue with God over what it says. He simply submits himself to the Word's authority over his life.

A disciple knows true freedom in his soul because he knows the life that obedience to the Lord brings. He lives in the grace of Christ and seeks to honor Him in all he does. He does not live in bondage to sin. Instead, he lives a life truly blessed by the Lord. He lives knowing that when life is over on earth he will live eternally with the Lord. He has peace and joy and does not fear what tomorrow may bring. He confidently faces whatever live brings him because he knows the Lord is with him and will help him live in victory.

A true disciple does not give up in his faith walk. He does not stop obeying the Lord. He lives life always seeking to please the Lord.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Do you know who Jesus is?

John 8:19 "Where is your father?" they asked. Jesus answered, "Since you don't know who I am, you don't know who my Father is. If you knew me, then you would know my Father as well."

Do you know who Jesus is? Do you really know Him? All knowledge of Jesus begins in the heart. Without Jesus being your Savior and then Lord, you may know about Him, but you won't know Him. To know Jesus is to embrace Him and commit to living a surrendered life to Him.

To know Jesus is to experience Him working within you, changing you, and using you for His purposes instead of your own. To know Him is to desire what He wants more than what you want. To know Him is to lean on Him for understanding and to trust Him in whatever He does in your life. To know Him means that you are faithfully into the Word of God so that you can hear what He has to say to you. To know Him means that you spend time alone in fellowship with Him.

When you really get to know Jesus, you really get to know God. Jesus is God in human form. When you know Jesus you discover just how personal, yet powerful God is. You discover how amazing God is in every way. You discover that God is holy and that we are like Him in holiness through Christ. There is no way to comprehend God apart from Jesus. There is no way to please God apart from Jesus. There is no way to make it to God apart from Jesus.

Is God a mystery to you? Let Jesus unravel the mystery.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jesus is THE light of the world.

John 8:12 Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

Jesus is THE light of the world. Some people have the idea that they are the light. They are bent on drawing attention to themselves. They get so wrapped up in their accomplishments and popularity that they forget that they are not the light of the world. It is so easy to forget that Jesus is our light source.

Any light that we are able to shed in the world flows from Him. We can do nothing apart from Him. We are not worthy of the credit we often take for what is done through us. Each of us is a servant, and nothing more. We live to bring others to Christ who is the light, not to ourselves or our ministry. Our egos are easily stroked and we must fight the urge to stroke them.

In order to stay properly connected to the Light, we must never neglect our connecting times. We must diligently seek Him out and let Him search us out to make sure that there is nothing in us that would cause us to take upon ourselves the glory that is His alone.

Follow Jesus alone and you won't be led into the darkness of self-deceit and glory and stumble your way through life. Live in Christ and you will see clearly your way to heaven.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Casting Stones at Others

John 8:7-8 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stone!" Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

A woman had just been caught in the act of adultery. Several things come to my mind. What about the man involved in this? Wasn't he equally as guilty? Would they have him stoned too?

It was the religious elite who were sitting in judgment of this woman. They already were ready to stone her for what she had done. They brought her to Jesus thinking they could use her to trap Jesus into saying something they could use against Him. If He were to agree with them, then it would go against the spirit of love and mercy He preached about. He would then be accused of being a hypocrite, just like they were. Their real goal was to condemn Jesus, not the woman.

If the religious leaders were really wanting to stone the woman, they would have done it without asking Jesus. They had the authority to do it and would normally have exercised it, but that was not what they were after. Jesus was a problem for them and they saw this as an opportunity to get rid of their problem.

Jesus gave them permission to execute judgment on her, after first examining their own hearts. He told them they were qualified to be the judge of her heart if they themselves had never sinned. I wonder how many judgments we make would be made if we were to first examine our own hearts?

Jesus did not hide His emotions. He told them emphatically what they needed to do. He then left them to their thoughts and stooped down to write in the sand. We aren't told what He wrote, but whatever it was, it must have given the woman's accusers pause to think. They weren't used to seeing sin in their own lives. They weren't used to feeling the shame and guilt of their own hearts. They had an agenda, but Jesus changed it. One by one, they left until she was all alone standing before Jesus.

It's interesting how much Jesus changes our agendas when we stand before Him starkly aware of the sin in our hearts and honest about them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why do you read the Bible?

John 5:39,40 "You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you this eternal life."

Many search the Scriptures with their own agenda. They are looking for things to verify what they believe to be true. They interpret the Word in such a way that what they want to see will be seen. They are not open to the possibility they may be wrong in their understanding. They have been taught a certain way and their minds will not accept any other way of thinking.

When we search the Scriptures, there is only one thing that we should be looking for, Christ. All of the Word speaks clearly of Christ. He is the reason why we look to the Scriptures for guidance and help in life. Jesus is life. There is no eternal life apart from Him. What we know will not save us. No matter how well versed we may be in the Scriptures, if we do not know Christ as Savior and Lord, we will not make it to heaven.

Reading the Scriptures for any other reason than to find Christ is a waste of time and effort. He is the living and written Word of God. When you read the Word in order to support what you have embraced as truth, you are not reading it right. Our only desire should be to hear from God about God and how He impacts life. We need to read the Word expecting to hear from God. And, if we read things that go against what we believe to be true, we must be open to changing our thoughts. Study carefully the Word and let it always point you to Christ who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Monday, July 20, 2015

One person plants and another harvests.

John 4:37-38 ‘You know the saying, ‘One person plants and someone else harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and you will gather the harvest.

Our egos can often be our own worst enemy. We like, and often, crave for recognition. We want to be appreciated for what we do. We like to be seen in an admirable light. We see ourselves as being very important people in the grander scheme of things. We take pride in our accomplishments.

What we tend to forget is that no one can accomplish anything without the input of others. We depend on others to do what they are supposed to do in order for us to be able to do what we can do. If others fail to perform their role, we are not able to do what we do. As much as we like to think that we are special and have accomplished much, we are just doing what we do because others have done what they did.

In the Kingdom of God, this is especially true. It takes everyone doing what God gives them to do in order for a soul to make it into heaven. We each have a part to play in preparing a soul for being receptive to the Gospel. We may or may not see the fruit of our labors, but God does. It's important that we remain faithful and just serve the Lord. When the time is right, a soul is harvested. It may happen quickly, or it may take years.

Don't concern yourself about being in the limelight and getting recognition for what you do. Do what God has given you to do and be satisfied with that. God knows the part you play in the harvest. Rejoice in what God is doing through you and others. Rejoice that He is being glorified in the souls of man.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Serve the Lord today.

John 4:35-36 "Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!"

Procrastination, we all do it. There are tasks that we put off simply because we either know we don't like doing them or because we would rather be doing something else at the moment. We usually assume that time is on our side and that we will have ample opportunity to get done what we know we should do.

Sadly, many of us are spiritual procrastinators when it comes to being witnesses for Christ and serving Him. We believe that we have lots of time to do it, so we put it off for another day. What we don't stop to consider is that tomorrow may never come.

We don't know when the Lord is coming again. We don't know if we will live another day. We don't know if someone we need to witness to will live another day. We don't know if the door of opportunity for us to serve will be open another day. Today is the day the Lord has given us and we need to be about His business while we have today.

There is probably no greater joy than to know that we have made a difference in someone's soul. We may be instrumental in leading them to the Lord. We may come alongside of them when they need someone the most. We may plant seed in their minds that will bear fruit later. However the Lord wants to use us, it brings great joy to the soul knowing that our life has made a difference in someone else's eternal life journey.

Don't be a procrastinator and miss out on the wondrous blessings God has in store for those who serve Him while it is still today.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What do you live for?

John 4:34 Then Jesus explained, "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work."

What do you live for? Now, be honest. What consumes most of your time, energy and thoughts? What you live for matters the most to you. It is evident in how you spend your time, what you talk about the most and what you invest your best efforts at doing. So, what are you living for? Your job? Your marriage? Your hobby? The Lord?

We profess allegiance to Christ and proclaim our love for Him. Yet, for most of us, the Lord is just a part of our lives, but not our lives. We try to act like we are His children, but He is not the consuming passion of our lives. We let the Lord tag along in our lives, but we are not so into Christ that He is the reason why we live.

Jesus set the example for us. His reason for living was to do the will of God and to do what God sent Him to earth to do. We need to be likewise so committed to God that doing His will for us is what we live for. We need to let Him determine what His will is for us instead of ourselves. We need to stay close enough to Him that we won't be in doubt about what He wants us to do. Nothing may change in what we do in life if we do, but then again, maybe it will.

We need to stay on course with God's will and stay in it all of our lives. Our work on earth is not done until the Lord says it is. We need to actively be involved in striving to serve the Lord in whatever we do in life. It is the only way we will have peace with God.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Like most preachers, I have used this verse a lot. I believe that it is especially relevant in the church today. We do church, but we don't do it all that well, at least not by God's standards. We vary on some of our understandings of truth, but for the most part, we do pretty well about preaching and teaching the Word of God. It's the living part that we struggle with the most. Most of us probably have a fairly good workable knowledge of the truth even. It's just that we don't do well with making it work for us the other six days of the week.

Another problem we run into is that we usually go through the motions of worship instead of actually being in the spirit of worship. Many things go through our minds when we are in worship services and most of them are not related to our relationship with God. So often, we leave our spirit out of the church. We go through the motions, but we are not connecting with the Lord like we could and should be.

Is it really worship that we are doing? Not according to what Jesus is saying in our text today. In order for true worship to happen we need to be engaged with the Lord both in His Word and in our spirit. We need to quiet our hearts before the Lord, wait before Him, and expect Him to speak to us. We need to focus on our souls and not all the other stuff that may fill up our days. We need to come before Him knowing we need a word from Him and stay engaged until we get it.

Jesus said that we MUST worship Him in spirit and truth. Let us strive to do a better job of bringing our spirit with us when we come before Him in worship, whether it's in public or private worship.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Quenching the Soul's Thirst

John 4:13-14 Jesus replied, "People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life."

Thirst is a natural part of life. Whenever there is a lack of necessary water to sustain life, thirst comes into play. God gave every living thing a natural thirst mechanism so that sufficient water to sustain life will be provided. When there is no water for a prolonged period of time, the body shuts down and will die if water is not provided.

The same thing holds true for the soul. God gave us a natural need for Him. Every human being ever born has it. When our need for God is not provided for, we spiritually die. The reason why so many people are so bad is that their need for God was never provided for. Somewhere along the way their souls were denied the necessary food to make their soul grow or sustain it. They were not brought to the Spirit of God who fills the soul with God's presence and satisfies its longings. Or, they chose not to take advantage of the food that was provided for them and they starved their soul to death.

The only way that the thirst of the soul can ever be quenched is for the soul to turn to Christ and let Him dwell within. When Christ lives in the soul, there is such a deep and abiding satisfaction that there is no more searching, no more desperately trying to find the peace and joy every soul needs and longs for. When Christ lives in the soul, the soul is more alive than ever thought possible. Christ so energizes the soul that it he is forever changed.

Jesus satisfies every longing of the heart. Only in Christ does one find that which satisfies. The world promises a multitude of things will satisfy and make one happy, but only Christ can deliver on His promises.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

An Appointment with Jesus

John 4:4 He had to go through Samaria on the way.

What strikes me about this statement is that this was not a trip without a purpose. Jesus and the disciples purposely went by way of Samaria. Why? As we read on we discover that there was a woman in Samaria who needed to see Jesus. Jesus knew she was there and He wanted to give her an opportunity to get to know Him. We are led to believe that the disciples did not know about her. They were just traveling with Jesus learning all they could about Him and eternal life.

It reminds me that Jesus knows those who are lost and will go out of His way to confront them. He knows those who are lost and open to being found. He knows that all they need is be presented with the truth of the Gospel. Because He is love, God reaches out to us when we need Him the most. No matter how unlovable we may be, He comes to us to offer us eternal life.

The woman He went to see was an immoral woman. She had been married five times and was then living with a man without being married to him. Yet, she was open to the truth. Scripture does not tell us what brought her to the point where she was open to the Gospel. Perhaps she had discovered just how unfulfilling her life of sin was. She knew she was not happy living the life that she was living. She needed something better; she needed God in her life.

We need to be careful that we don't shut out those whom we think are not "Gospel material." We need to share the truth with everyone whom the Lord brings our way. We don't know the heart of others. Perhaps, that one who others would avoid and consider hopeless may just be the one who is ready to hear the truth and be saved. Don't judge others because of what they have done. God puts people in our paths to be a light too. Don't hide your light from them and perhaps be the one who causes them to slip into hell because you did not give them one more opportunity to be saved.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Every task done in the church is important.

John 3:27 John replied, "God in heaven appoints each person’s work."

There is so much that goes on in the church today that is being done without God's hand on it. We do things because no one else will do them. We do things because they catch our interest. We do things because we want others to notice. We do things to make ourselves feel productive and good. But, how many of us do things because we know God has ordained it, that He has specifically equipped us and given us opportunities to do them?

We look to leaders in the church and expect them to be "called" to do what they do. Yet, what about the multitude of other things that go on in Jesus' name? Paul writes in I Corinthians 12 about God through His Spirit giving each of us gifts to serve in the church. We are told that each task is equally important for the well-being of the whole. Somehow we have gotten away from the thought that unless God has done the appointing what we do is not approved by God.

I wonder what would happen if every task that was done in the church was prayed over first asking the Lord to put into place those people whom He has equipped for the task. I wonder what difference it would make if everyone serving in the church were to see themselves as being appointed by God for the task. I wonder how much more effective our serving would be if we were to operate by God's appointments and not our own.

Are you like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? If so, then the chances are good that God has not appointed you to do the task and you need to discover what your gift is and find a better way to serve. God does not put people into place who are not properly gifted for the task. Discover your gift, nurture it, and use it for the glory of Christ and the betterment of the church.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Doing what is right before God is a heart issue.

John 3:21 But those who do what is right come to the light gladly so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.

Doing what is right is doing what is right before God. There are things which seem right to man that are not right with God. God's Word is always our standard for what is right. We cannot be or do what is right before God without it being based on the Word of God.

It's a heart issue. Those who do what is right do it because they know that it is God's way. They know that what pleases God is what matters. They dwell in the light because they know that God is light. It is in the presence of God that we discover what we need to do in order to please Him.

Those who do what is right before God do it so that others can see that what they are doing is what God wants. The goal is always to bring honor and glory to God. The desire is for God to be seen in us and not ourselves to be seen before man. This is perhaps one of the biggest battles most face today. So much attention is placed on the individual. So much stress is placed on being noticed as a measure of one's success and acceptance.

In order to be and do what is right with God, we must remain humble before Him. We must spend time in His Word and on our knees in prayer. We must keep constant vigilance over our souls. Our greatest need is to always seek to let God be seen in and through us. It should always be our goal to bring God honor and glory. We should always strive to live in such a way that the Lord is seen in a  positive light, that others would be attracted to Him because of how we reflect Him.

Do what is right before God gladly so others will see that what you are doing is what God wants you to do. Our attitude says a lot about what we really think about our life in the Lord.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him."

John 3:18 "There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God."

If you have put your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, there is now no more judgment hanging over your soul. God accepts you as His child on the basis of the righteousness of Christ. When God peers into your soul He does not see beyond Christ. Behind Christ lies your sin-infested heart, but Jesus protects you from God's wrath. As far as God is concerned, you are holy in His eyes. The more we live in Christ, the freer we become from sin. The freer we become, the more we are at peace with God and the more we experience the joy of our salvation.

If you do not trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you stand guilty before God. God's judgment is absolute. If we don't believe that Jesus takes away our sin, our sin will haunt us. If you do not accept Jesus as your Savior, you have no hope of escaping God's wrath and condemnation to hell. You will never be free from the consequences of sin.

If you do not believe that Jesus has forgiven you after you are saved, you will be plagued by guilt and shame. You will never be free from the consequences associated with sin. Forgiveness is not just a word; it's a reality for those who would believe and receive it. Don't let Satan haunt you with forgiven sin! What's under the blood stays under the blood. God will never remind you of your forgiven past. It is no more.

Dear friend, if you are a child of God today, believe it! Believe that Jesus has forgiven you and given you victory over your sin. Believe that there is no condemnation hanging over your soul. Believe that you can now resist the temptations to sin. Believe that Jesus can and will help you if you will only let Him. To those who believe He gives not only life, but life more abundantly.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Lord will not overlook sin.

John 3:17 "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it."

Many people have the idea that because God is holy, He is more like a tyrant who is always on the lookout for sin and immediately judges it when He sees it. God is seen as one who is harsh and unbending in His judgment of us. Such thinking is wrong. Yes, God is holy and judges sin. He will never compromise on His justice and will condemn sin. But, He sent Jesus not to exercise judgment. He came to exercise mercy. Mercy is the natural outcropping of His love. God does not have any desire to condemn us for our sins. He is not willing for anyone to go to hell because of their sinful heart. He sent Jesus here to do something about the judgment that would send us to hell. Jesus came to save us from God's wrath, not put us under it.

If anyone falls victim to God's wrath, it is by choice. We choose to live under condemnation or victory and will be judged accordingly. If you are not living in a personal relationship with Christ today, you better be afraid for Judgment Day is coming. If you are living in Christ, don't believe the lie of Satan that you are doomed because of your inability to live a sin-free life. We all sin and fall short of God's glory and standards, but there is mercy, love, and forgiveness in Christ. He whom Christ sets free is free indeed.

The Lord will not overlook sin.  He will not take away sin that is not given over to Him.  He never has and never will condone sin.  If the heart is right with God, and He knows, then forgiveness is freely given.  However, if the intent of the heart is to sin in defiance of God, one must repent before the sin can be forgiven.  We cannot mock God's grace by taking liberties with it and do whatever we want instead of what God wants.  He will hold us accountable for such an attitude.  Humility before God will always move us to repentance and holiness of heart.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What does the Lord see in His house?

John 2:14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices, and he saw money changers behind their counters.

What does the Lord see when he looks into the church today? I wonder what kind of a reaction He would have to what goes on in many churches? Would He be pleased with what we do in His house?

Most of us would say that our church is the Lord's house. We proclaim that it is a place where we, God's family, gather together for worship, edification, and fellowship. We like to think that when we are together the Lord is right there with us. And yet, are our surroundings conducive to the Lord being there? Are we focused on Him or those around us? Are we focused on worshiping Him or being entertained by others? Are we content with letting others do our thinking for us, or do we meditate on God's Word also?

Are we as concerned about the appearance of our souls as we are our surroundings? Would the Lord be pleased with what he sees in His house of worship? I wonder. Jesus said that His house was a house of prayer, yet where has our altars and prayer meetings gone? When was the last time your church family gathered together on bended knee and prayed for a revival? I wonder sometimes just how comfortable Jesus is when He enters into His house to have fellowship with His people.

You may not be able to change the surroundings in which you worship in, but you can choose whether or not you will be a part of what you know displeases the Lord. You can be an example for others to follow by the way you conduct yourself in His house and the way you approach the worship service. The Lord honors those who worship Him in spirit as well as in truth. We will not get more out of worship than what of ourselves we put into it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Difference A Life Can Make

John 1:40-41 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of these men who had heard what John said and then followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him. "We have found the Messiah"(which means the Christ).

What would have happened if Andrew had not listened to John when he spoke of Jesus and followed Him? John was the forerunner and cousin of Jesus. He was given the task by God to prepare the way for Christ's public ministry. He heard what John said and took it to heart and followed the Lord. We then see what happened because Andrew chose to believe in Jesus instead of reject Him. He did not keep his new faith to himself; he went and told his brother, Simon Peter.

What would have happened if Andrew had not gone and told his brother, Simon, about Jesus? Simon (Peter) later on became the leader of the early church. It was Peter who stood up and preached Jesus to the crowds after Pentecost. It was Peter who God used to convince a multitude of people to believe in Him. If Andrew had decided that his faith in Jesus was his and had chosen to keep it to himself, his brother may never had become a follower of Christ.

I wonder how many people we fail to share the Gospel with could play an integral part of the church some day if only we had cared enough to share it with them? How many souls will be lost because of our letting one soul slip through our lives without telling them? We can never know what a difference could be made in people's lives if only we would be faithful witnesses for Christ. Don't minimize the importance of the encounters the Lord brings across your path. Perhaps you will be the one who will lead the next Billy Graham to the Lord.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

God became human!

John 1:14 So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Son of the Father.

This is one of the most profound verses in all of the Bible. Think about it; the Word (that is, God) became human and lived here on earth. God in His infinite wisdom knew that He had to become one with us in order for us to understand Him and His love for us. He knew that there was no other way for us to be able to reach out to Him and embrace eternal life.

God became human, which tells us so much about how He loves us. He loves us so much that He wanted to communicate with us on a heart level. He wanted us to experience His life on a much deeper level than duty. He wanted to fellowship with us. He wanted to teach us how to live close to Him. Not only that, He loves us so much He wanted to experience the life we live so that He could help us on our level.

God became human and we are able to see what unfailing love and faithfulness was all about. Jesus lived a faithful life to God. No one could honestly find any fault in how He lived life. He never disowned or disobeyed God. He never backed down from being a witness for Him. He taught and lived righteousness all the days of His life on earth, even to His very last breath. Everything Jesus did was out of love. He loved those who responded to His teachings and followed Him. He loved those who would not commit to Him and longed that they would change their minds. He loved those who put Him on the cross and nailed Him there. He even asked God to forgive them while they were doing it.

We look upon Jesus and we see the glory of God in the flesh. We see God showing us the way to Him. We see love at its finest; God becoming human so that we humans could become one in heart with God. We see God doing for us what we could never do, getting rid of our sin problem so that we can be made holy, a people after God 's own heart and acceptable to Him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Do you recognize your Creator?

John 1:10-13 But although the world was made through him, the world didn't recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan---this rebirth comes from God.

Isn't it ironic that the world does not recognize her Creator? Don't ever underestimate the power of sin to deceive and blind the soul. It so darkens the mind of man that he can't even see He who made him.

To all who recognize Jesus and believe in Him as the Savior of life, He gives them the right to become children of God. We have no right to claim to be children of God apart from a personal relationship with Christ. He alone has the authority and ability to make us children of God.

No one can become a child of God through human effort. We are not children of God as by-products of human passion. We are not born Christians and we do not become Christians as a result of our efforts, no matter how sincere we may be.

Our acceptability by God is solely determined by Him. He alone can save us. He alone can forgive us and purify our hearts and make us acceptable to Him. He alone can impart the righteousness of Christ upon our souls and make us a part of His family. He alone can change us from slaves of sin to servants of God. He alone can open the doors of heaven and let us in.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Light dispels darkness.

John 1:5 The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Light dispels darkness. Wherever there is light, there is no darkness. As far as the light is able to shine, there is no darkness. The farther away from the light one gets, the darker things are. The closer to the light one gets, the brighter things become. The stronger the light wattage is, the brighter the light will be.

Light serves a multitude of purposes. In addition to dispelling darkness, it shows us the path we need to take in order to not stumble, fall and perhaps injure ourselves. Light makes us aware of danger that may be lurking around us. Light enables us to see so that we can constantly be learning and growing. Light enables us to see what surrounds us so that we can enjoy what is there. Light enables us to function without always fearing what lurks in the darkness. Light lifts up our spirits and helps us to function better.

Where there is no light, the soul is fearful and easily depressed. There’s a blanket of doom that hovers over the soul and makes living joyfully very difficult, if not impossible.

Jesus is the soul’s light. In Him there is no darkness at all. When we live in the Light, all those things that would otherwise drag our souls down into a life of despair are gone. We are able to live with a clear sense of who we are and where we are going. We are able to have a spring in our steps because we know there is nothing to fear. The more we allow Christ to live in us and control our lives, the brighter our light will be.

If you are struggling to find your way out of darkness, let the Lord shine on your soul. Let Him show you the way out. Let Him renew in you the joy of salvation. Linger in His presence and cry out to him. He will hear you and come to your aid. He wants to help you, but you have to let him. Whatever you may be facing in your life today, Jesus is the only one who can really help you. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full into his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim; in the light of his glory and grace."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

On the Road with Jesus

Luke 24:32 They said to each other, "Didn’t our hearts feel strangely warm as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?"

Often when I read this verse, I pause. The two disciples walking on the road to Emmaeus did not know at the moment that Jesus was with them. They were walking along talking with a stranger about the events that had just happened over the past three days in Jerusalem. They were still trying to figure out what had happened and why. There were many things to sort through.

As they walked with this stranger, He showed them through the Scriptures what had just happened. He talked with them clearly about what had to happen and how He had fulfilled the Scriptures. They arrived at a house and as they did, Jesus opened their eyes and they recognized Him as the Messiah. And then, He was gone.

I wonder how often we are strangely warmed when we read the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit reveals things to us that we had not seen before about our Lord. If we are honest, most of us would probably have to admit that we haven't had many experiences like that, if any. Most of us aren't in a position in life where we are that sensitive to the Spirit's leading.

I wonder what would happen in our lives if we were to actually understand the Scriptures the way we should and then live them out. I suspect that a lot of changes would take place in us, our churches, and the lives we live. Let our prayer be always that we would linger in the Word and let the Holy Spirit guide us and teach us what God has for us. Let us not be in such a hurry that we miss out on the great truths of God that we so desperately need.

May the Lord give us understanding that we may always see Jesus.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Are we guilty of betraying the Lord?

Luke 22:48 But Jesus said, "Judas, how can you betray me, the Son of man, with a kiss?"

We often look at Judas and shake our heads. We wonder how he could have betrayed the Lord. He had lived with the Lord for the past three years. He was an eyewitness to all that Jesus had done and had heard Him teach about the things of God. He was included in all of the things that Jesus had done for the disciples by themselves. He belonged. Yet, Judas was not on the same page as Jesus and the rest of the disciples. He was with them and one of them, yet he was on the outside looking in. However, before we are too hard on Judas, we need to look at ourselves.

Are we guilty of betraying the Lord? Let's take an honest look at ourselves before we answer this question. There are many different ways that we can betray the Lord. We betray Him when we are given opportunities to be a witness for Him and we pass them up. We betray Him when we use His name flippantly as if He were no one special. We betray Him when we give Him only lip service. We betray Him when we treat His children with contempt. We betray Him when we withhold from Him our tithes and offerings. We betray Him when we put people before Him. We betray Him when we put other things before Him in our lives.

If Jesus is not the influencer of all we do in life, then we need to recommit ourselves to Him. There is room in the heart for only one Lord. God is a jealous god. He will not share His rightful place in our hearts. If He is not Lord of all, He really is not Lord at all. Is Jesus really your Lord?

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Pray that you will not be overcome by temptation."

Luke 22:39,40 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, "Pray that you will not be overcome by temptation."

Jesus knew what was coming. He knew what it would be like for Him and for the disciples. He knew that He was ready for what was about to happen, but the disciples weren't. They had yet to learn just how weak faith is without God's help to make it strong.

Jesus knew that He had to pray as well. Although He was willing and ready to face the horrors of the cross, He had to overcome the flesh's desire to avoid it. He was just like us in that regard; He did not want to have to endure the sufferings of the flesh He was about to go through. He had to pray so that He would be strong enough in spirit to resist the temptation to call for the angels of heaven to come and take Him home to heaven without the cross.

We need to follow Jesus' example. We need to pray much that we might not be overcome by temptation. Sometimes we know ahead of time the situation we will be in. We know that it will be very tempting for us to let down our guard and participate in the sinful behavior that awaits us. Our greatest need is to pray beforehand. We can't expect God to help us resist temptation when we don't pray and ask Him to before we encounter it. Praying beforehand indicates the true desire of our hearts to stay pure before God.

We dare not overestimate our willpower. We, like the disciples, are weak in faith when faced with overwhelming temptation. We, too, will stumble and fall without God's help. The Spirit will give us the willpower and strength to resist temptation if we ask Him to. Never take for granted what you can do; ask the Lord to help you and you will live in victory.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pride in one's spirituality is an awful thing to have.

Luke 18:11-12 The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer. ˜I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I dont sin, I dont commit adultery, I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income."

Pride in one’s spirituality is an awful thing to have. Pride comes when we play the comparison game. We look around us and find a lot of people who aren’t as good as we are. We see ourselves as having an inside track to God because of what we have learned or what we are doing. We want to lord it over others because our pride convinces us we deserve to do it. We see ourselves as being wise and deserving of praise. Spiritual pride is the enemy of our souls.

I believe that we need to understand where we are at in our journey with Christ. We need to know how far the Lord has brought us. We need to know who we are in Christ. We need to know the trust the Lord has placed in us to do his work. We need to know these things so that our gratitude and devotion to Christ may increase. We need to know how much we owe to Him and be humbled by it. We will never understand what true grace is until we learn to appreciate what has happened in us because of Christ in us.

Be careful of what you think about yourself. You are nothing without Christ. You don’t deserve anything but God’s disdain and wrath. You are who you are because of what Christ has done and not you. You are no better than anyone else, no matter how much you have grown spiritually. You will never outgrow your need for Christ to change you. Pride in who you have become will take you down if you let it rule your heart.

Don’t ever think for a moment that you have not sinned. You have and do, just like everyone else. Thinking of your self-righteousness will destroy your soul. We all need to see ourselves in light of God’s holiness, not our goodness. We need Jesus constantly to work in us to make us holy before God. We cannot be holy without His constant lordship over our lives.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

No condemnation in Christ

Rom. 8:1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

We struggle with sin. Sometimes we win the victory over it, and sometimes we lose the battle. We look back on our failures with guilt, shame, and regrets. If we are not careful, we may even question how God can love us because of what we have done. Instead of bringing it to Christ and seeking His forgiveness, we dwell in the affects our sin has had on us or others. We begin to think that we are not worthy of forgiveness and may even question the validity of our relationship with Christ.

If this sounds too familiar to you, hear the Word of God today: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. If you are a child of God, the gracious love of Christ forgives you! He will not walk away from you because of what you do or think. He will chastise you to get you to repent, but He will not forsake you. You may deserve judgment, but you find mercy and grace in Him. Don't wallow around in the negative consequences of sin, go to Jesus and you will be loved and forgiven, no matter what you may have done. He will help you to overcome your sin problem if you will only let him. You don't have to live in spiritual misery. There is hope, peace, and victory in Jesus.

The next time you are tempted to think that somehow you have driven Christ away from your heart, think on today's verse. The Lord doesn't condemn you, and neither should you.