And We Know

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” – Rom. 8:28

And we know.”

Here is faith in action: Believers know and trust in God’s overruling, comprehensive, and good providence over all of His creation.

Note that God’s provision of working everything for the good is offered only to those who love God.

Faith Is Accounted For Righteousness

“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,” – Rom. 4:5

The person who’s faith is accounted for righteousness is the person who does not lean on his or her own works, but rather, who relies solely on God.

God is the one who justifies the sinner, not the sinner’s actions or accomplishments.

It’s not based on us, but Him.

Why Was I Created?

why was i created

Why was I created? Why were you?

It’s because God wanted to lavish you with His love. He didn’t need us, He wanted us. God gives, we receive (John 3:16). He literally pours His love into our hearts through His Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

The reason Britt & I wanted children is because we wanted to love them and cherish them. We wanted to share our lives with them. We wanted them so we could bless them.

God created you for the exact same purpose and nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:35-39). Our response to that immeasurable gift is to be grateful and to glorify God (Psa. 145).

God gives, have you received?

The Rich Young Ruler

rich young ruler

If someone asked you how to get to Heaven, you’d probably say “by grace through faith in Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9),” right? So why did Jesus give the Law to the rich young ruler when he asked the same question (Mark 10:17-22)?

This passage used to scare me. Will I have to sell all my stuff and give it to the poor?

No, no – that’s not the point.

The point is Jesus was exposing where the young ruler put his faith and it was IN HIS ABILITY TO KEEP THE LAW. (The Law THEN was the 10 commandments, NOW is any human effort or religious tradition). He thought rule-keeping was his ticket. His faith was in himself.

I’m not rich, young, or a ruler – but I identify with this guy, don’t you? Self-righteous, works-based faith is a constant struggle. What would Jesus say to me? “Throw away your device and follow Me.” Abraham was asked to give up Isaac (Gen. 22). What would He say to you?

The Law cannot save (Gal. 4:21). It’s not faith-worthy. It’s a ministry of death bringing God’s wrath ( 2 Cor. 3:7 & Rom. 4:15). Likewise today, putting your faith in your works, only brings God’s wrath. The Law is there to reveal our sin and point us to Jesus (Rom. 6:14). Like a mirror: it reflects you (warts & all), but cannot clean you. No one uses the mirror to clean their face. The mirror just shows you how dirty you are (Rom. 3:20). The Law crushes self-reliance, it is not a reason for it.

Mark 10:21 is a tender moment: Jesus looks at the young ruler and loves him. He’s trying to take him from Sinai to Calvary. He does the same for us. He knows us the best and loves us the most. After all, we’re all little Prodigals and Pharisees.

The young ruler boasted in keeping “all” the Law, so Jesus showed how he had missed the FIRST ONE! (Exd. 20:3) He placed his possessions before God. Look, if you rely on human effort, there will always be cracks (Gal. 3:10). Like a chain holding you over a fire; remove just one link and it all falls apart (James 2:10). Anything you make into a Law and then use to condemn others – will be used to condemn you.

 “Everything that isn’t gospel is law. If its not rooted in the good news of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is damnable, crushing, despair-breeding , Pharisee-producing law. We’ll get either shallow self-righteousness or blazing rebellion or both.” – Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Give Them Grace

This passage doesn’t scare me anymore. I am not under the Law. It is obsolete (Heb. 8:13). I am under GRACE (Rom. 8:2). Relying on tradition & religious rituals makes Jesus of no effect (Mark 7:13). It blinds us with a veil that only Jesus can remove (2 Cor. 3:14-16). Jesus came to set us free from this nonsense (Gal. 5:1).

Luke’s account says when the young ruler left, Jesus was saddened (18:24).  Jesus didn’t force anything. It was his choice. Jesus loves us enough to let us reject Him. However, if we do, it grieves Him.

Please don’t make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. Put your faith totally in Jesus today.

 

Straining at Rowing

spruce island lake davis wv kayak

I took Mary kayaking this weekend. Typical of a 2-year old, she wanted to “do it myself!” Needless to say, we didn’t get very far and she ended up pretty frustrated. Truth be told, she was a hot mess and I apologize to anyone who was expecting a peaceful afternoon on the water, but was instead subject to a full-blown temper tantrum that I’m sure was heard far and wide.

I kept thinking: If she would just relax and let her father do the rowing, we could have fun zipping all over that lake. Instead, she huffed & puffed and sweated & cried. Instead of going somewhere, we went nowhere. Instead of fun, it was… torturous. I was reminded of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee.

“Then He saw them STRAINING AT ROWING, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.” – Mark 6:48 (NKJV) [Emphasis mine.]

“Straining” doesn’t do that Greek word justice. Basanizó literally means TORTURING.

They were literally torturing themselves by not relying on Jesus! Likewise, you and I are literally torturing ourselves by not relying on Jesus too.

Whenever we try to earn our salvation by being a “good person,” we are straining at the oars. Whenever we try to save ourselves with religious rituals, we are straining at the oars. Whenever we try to do ANY of the rowing, we will inevitably be straining at the oars.

Thinking you have anything to do with your redemption is the opposite of the gospel. Paul says that teaching telling you otherwise is not even a gospel; it is distorted and accursed, twice! (Gal. 1:7-9) Listen: we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, by His blood, through faith. Period. (Rom. 3:24-25)

We are all in a tempestuous sea. The wind is against us. No matter how furiously we strain, ROWING IN OUR OWN STRENGTH will never get us to shore. Aren’t you tired of rowing in circles? Aren’t you tired of torturing yourself? Jesus can easily step in if we would only let Him. He calms the sea, silences the wind, and gets us safely to the other side.

But we must first hand the oars over to Him.

Let God help you.


Ref: https://biblehub.com/greek/928.htm

Is God a Cosmic Killjoy?

termites

There’s a line from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” In other words, we can do whatever we want. The inevitable result is the current culture in which we find ourselves. It’s the “you’re ok/I’m ok, do what you feel, if it makes you happy/do it, love is love” ideology. At its core is a rejection of God because He’s a cosmic killjoy. Of course this is not new news; a reading of Romans 1-3:20 will tell you as much.

Paul gives Man 3 major strikes: they worship the creation not the Creator, exchange the truth for a lie, and exchange natural relations for unnatural ones. The prevailing theme is that there is no fear of God before their eyes (3:18).

No fear, respect, or reverence of God are like termites in your spiritual house. Bite by bite, they will slowly eat the whole thing.

It’s not one big termite munching away. If so, we’d say: “Look at the size of that thing; Kill it!” No, it’s thousands of little ones silently eroding the integrity of the entire structure.

It’s also not all at once. If so, we’d say: “Look, this morning I woke up and half the house is missing! We gotta do something!” No, it’s spread evenly over a long period of time.

And it’s not on the outside where everyone can see it. If so, we’d say: “Look at all those termites all over the place! Disgusting!” No, they’re all on the inside. Undetected. Gnawing on the bones of your house.

Is God a lame cosmic killjoy? Does He not want us to have any fun and sidle us with a bunch of restrictions?

Or could it possibly be that He knows what lies at the end of a path without Him? Could it possibly be that He knows better and is actually looking out for us? Could it possibly be His ways are the best ways and ours lead to destruction? Could it possibly be that it breaks His heart every time one of His creations turn their back on Him?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” – Prov. 3:5-6

Please do not make the fatal mistake of allowing your heart to be darkened. Not fearing God is the root of our downfall. Fear Him, glorify Him, and do not allow the termites to Swiss-cheese your house.

Romans 3:21-26

Martin Luther called it the heart of the Bible. Spurgeon called it the soul, head, foundation, and cornerstone of the Gospel. To miss it is to miss the central idea of God’s Word.

Romans 3:21-26

Up to now (Romans 1-3:20), Paul has shown the overwhelming evidence in God’s court that Man is hopelessly guilty.

This is the verdict of Man.

“Is the wound forever incurable? No; blessed be God, there is way laid open for us!” – Matthew Henry

“BUT NOW!”

This is the scene in the movie; the sudden turn/twist: the last minute intervention; riding into the wedding or execution.

Something unexpected happens that changes everything.

The Righteousness of God comes…

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His G.R.A.C.E. through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The Verdict is overruled = NOT GUILTY

1. Apart from the Law = you can’t be good enough/keep laws/rituals (emphatic position)

2. Justified by His Grace = “made right/innocent” before God by His grace. Scandalous!

3. Through faith in Jesus for all who believe = Too good to be true? Trust in Jesus. It really happened, he died for me! It is finished/done!

This is the BOMB dropped; the ripple effect – the event that changed everything

This is where “Mercy & truth have met together; Righteousness & peace have kissed.” (Psa. 85:10) It’s all because of Jesus on the Cross!

This is our God!

Naturalism

iphone in the sand

It seems to me that people used to blindly follow the Bible and were skeptical of science. Now people blindly follow science and are skeptical of the Bible. Both are wrong.

  1. We do not “blindly” follow the Bible. We follow the Bible because we follow truth. There is plenty of (and a variety of) evidence to corroborate the Bible. It is not just the “wishful thinking” of a bygone era.
  2. We are not skeptical of science. Science equally corroborates the claims of the Bible. Science can do nothing other than reveal God.

I would call science the “new religion,” but science is not a worldview or philosophy; it is a study of the natural world through observation and experiment.

  • You can’t get morals from it.
  • You can’t get how to live from it.
  • You can’t get the purpose of all this from it.

Science can tell me how the brain works, but not why. Descartes said “I think therefore I am,” but why do I think in the first place?

This new religion is actually an old one: Naturalism; the worldview according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.

Simply speaking naturalists worship the creation over the Creator. Paul says this brings God’s wrath: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator.” – Romans 1:25

Think about this practically: you come across an iPhone on the beach and start marveling over it. When I come up and tell you about Steve Jobs, you reject him, and return to marveling over the device.

It is exchanging the truth of God for a lie. Please investigate this for yourself and go where the truth leads you.

I’m a Whosoever

im-a-whosoever

I’m a Whosoever

• Jew or Gentile • Male or Female • Young or Old • Rich or Poor • Conservative or Liberal • Republican or Democrat • Gay or Straight • Married or Single • Introvert or Extrovert • Ex-Con or Eagle Scout • Crook or Cop • Traditionalist or Progressive • Successful or Start-Up • Wall Street or Skid Row • Country folk or City slicker • Early Bird or Night Owl • Blue Collar or White Collar • Silver Spoon or Street Smart • Marvel or DC • Yanny or Laurel • Them or Us • Me or You

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Rom. 10:13, Acts 2:21, & John 3:16

“Whosoever” in Greek means: each & every. Is there anybody that does not fall under the category of each & every?

  • I am an each & every.
  • You are an each & every.
  • We all are an each & every.

“The emphasis of the total picture is on ‘one piece at a time’ and then focuses on the ‘parts making up the whole.'” In other words, we are all interlocking pieces to a grand puzzle creating a masterpiece picture of God’s love for His children shown through His Son, Jesus.

The invitation is open to each & every, but it is a limited-time offer. He is coming back soon. Then it will be too late. Don’t delay.


Ref: http://biblehub.com/greek/3956.htm

The Gospel Is For Everyone

God-is-not-partial

Over and over the Bible says God shows no partiality. Yes, He elected Israel and gave them His Word first, but thankfully the door is now wide open to every nation.

Here is why: all sin and fall short.

All. Everyone. Every country. Every nation. Sin rules the Jew and the Gentile. Sin enslaves the young or old. Sin destroys the rich or poor. Sin is the great equalizer of nations. Sin is the common denominator in all our DNA. It is because of the debilitating pervasiveness of sin that God shows no partiality.

You say: “Not me! I try my best to be good. I don’t do anything bad!”

Actually, what you are (if you are without Christ Jesus) is not good or bad; but DEAD. Jesus didn’t come to condemn, but save. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good or good people better. Jesus came to bring dead people back to life.

God shows no partiality because a dead body is the same as any other dead body and He doesn’t like dead bodies; He likes living ones.

God shows no partiality because of His goodness.

God shows no partiality because the Gospel is for everyone.