Posts Tagged ‘ Gospel ’

June 23, 2017

June 23, 2017

PSALM 51-57

Focus Verse: Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.
Psalm 51:10-13

 

Psalm 51 is the perfect summary of the Gospel. Written after David’s fall into sin with Bathsheba, it summarizes the human condition of sin and the complete dependency on God to blot out our transgressions against Him.

 

This passage hits on that dependency from even before the first step of our salvation process. Before we even ask for forgiveness, the Holy Spirit is working on us, convicting us of our sins and softening our hearts so that we will have a willing spirit, ready to give up the past and turn to God’s intended future.

 

I really love verse 13, “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.” Are you saved? Have you experienced God’s salvation and forgiveness? Then who are you telling about it? If you have been completely forgiven of your sins – if you truly realize how lost and broken you were – then you won’t be able to shut up about His grace and mercy in your life! You ought to be screaming it from the rooftops! I would challenge you, if you don’t feel that way about God’s forgiveness, you need a new revelation of how lost you really were. I would be so bold to say that you have too low an opinion of how bad you were really lost in your sins.

 

Jesus teaches in Luke 7:47 about the woman who anoints His feet with oil “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” If you find yourself lacking in love, ask God to reveal to you how lost you really were before He called you into His marvelous light. It will rock your world.

 

When you realize how good God has been to you, you can’t help but share Him with those who are lost. But notice what David talks about sharing with them. He doesn’t start with God’s law, he starts with God’s ways. What are God’s ways? Kindness, mercy, forgiveness, patience, LOVE. We don’t jump straight to their sin – without giving God’s love first, sin is an impossible gap for us to cross – but when we open up God’s love to them and show them God’s ways in dealing with us, the HOLY SPIRIT (not us) begins to close that gap.

 

So how much have you been forgiven? And who are you telling about it?

June 17, 2017

June 17, 2017

PSALM 21-25

Focus Verse: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
Psalm 22:1
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
Psalm 22:7-8
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
Psalm 22:14-18

 

Little Bible trivia for you: Psalm 22 is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It probably won’t get you any further in life, but you’ll know now if the question ever comes up on Jeopardy or in some Christian version of Trivial Pursuit.

 

But it makes sense, doesn’t it? I’m sure I’ll address this again when we hit Isaiah 53, but how can you miss the significance of this chapter in the Bible. King David wrote this about 1,000 years before Jesus Christ was born! Are you picking up what I’m throwin’ down?

 

If you were to read this chapter to someone who had little to no knowledge of the Bible, I guarantee that they would identify this passage as describing Jesus, NOT David. That’s how prophetic it is!

 

One thousand years before Jesus Christ was born, God was already working in the hearts of His followers how His only Son would die. The plan had already been made, even down to the last words that Jesus would cry out on the cross.

 

God’s plan to win your heart back to Him has been in effect since the moment Adam and Eve fell in the garden. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”, Paul tells us in Romans 5:8.

 

You are the apple of God’s eye. Do you believe it yet?

June 8, 2017

June 8, 2017

JOB 24-28

Focus Verse: For as long as life is in me,
And the breath of God is in my nostrils
Job 27:3

 

There it is right there. This is the pride killer. This is the answer to all of your problems. “You don’t know me.” you might say, and that is true, but I do know the Gospel and what it tells me of the human condition. I do know myself and all of the junk that I wish I didn’t struggle with, and I’m willing to wager, if you look deep enough, you’ll see some of the same traces in you that I see in me.

 

We need this attitude toward life or we will be consumed. I wrote about my favorite Bible verse a few days ago, Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him”. This verse is the prequel to that verse.

 

You cannot suffer well so that Christ is glorified unless you realize the truth of this verse. Job is recognizing that his very life is borrowed. His breath is not his own. If you approach it any other way, you will never make it in front of the throne of God. Why can I be so sure of that? Because there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches that the proud will inherit the Kingdom of God, quite the contrary actually. The only thing promised to the proud is that they will be humbled…one way or another.

 

Ok! Deal. Then we all just need to strap up our boots, realize it’s God’s breath in our nostrils and that’ll take care of it. WRONG! I’ve heard a lot of people say that worship is the path to destroying pride. I don’t even think that’s the case. I understand it, and I’m splitting hairs a little bit on this, but I think it’s a hair that needs to be split or else we could come away with a faulty conclusion.

 

Praising God is absolutely a great way to keep our pride in check. Giving Him our thankfulness, our worship, our praise – recognizing all that He has done for us – that absolutely is a great thing.

 

But if we claim that as the way to destroy pride, then the power to destroy pride still lies within us and our actions…and that’s the problem with pride: as long as you have ownership, as long as it’s yours, pride will always accompany it one way or another.

 

Jesus Christ is the only one who can destroy our pride. I said earlier that pride will never let you approach the throne of God, but once you’re ready to get rid of that pride, the throne of God is the only place where you can get rid of it. God has to take it. The most beautiful illustration of this comes from C.S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawntreader from the Narnia series. Just reading through it makes me tear up every time when I think of what God has done for me.

 

The passage is about a young boy named Eustace, who, because of his greed, tries to take a dragon’s treasure and finds that he himself has turned into the dragon. He tries to peel off the dragon scales on his own, and succeeds in pulling them off, but no matter how many times he tries, he continues to find that underneath there are more scales, more layers of dragon skin that he cannot be rid of. Then the lion, Aslan, the Christ figure in the story, intercedes:

 

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

 

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

 

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

 

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

 

Do you need to turn into a boy (or girl) again? Jesus Christ will take your pride, your greed…any sin that is standing in between Him and you. It will hurt, realizing what you’ve become, but the freedom on the other side is unlike anything you have ever felt before.

 

It’s all His to begin with. Your very breath belongs to Him. When you give it back and become that boy (or girl) that He initially created you to be, you will experience freedom like never before. Following Christ will become a joy! Even in the midst of suffering! You will finally be who He created you to be…there is nothing more glorious than that!

June 2, 2017

June 2, 2017

JOB 5-7

Focus Verse: “Why then do You not pardon my transgression
And take away my iniquity?
For now I will lie down in the dust;
And You will seek me, but I will not be.”
Job 7:21

 

I love this! This is such an awesome tool to keep in your back pocket for rainy days. If you are following Jesus Christ and have repented of your sin, God cannot punish you.

 

Now, for those of you who aren’t doing the whole Bible reading with each of these passages, let me give you a quick recap so you can connect the dots with how these things tie together. Job’s friend, Eliphaz, has more or less told Job that the reason for his suffering is because Job has sinned against God. So the purpose of Job’s suffering is discipline to get Job to turn back to God.

 

The problem with that, is that God is a really good mailman. He is never going to deliver your mail to someone else without letting you in on that secret. Job has confessed his sins! He’s made sure that sin is not the reason that any of this has taken place, and that’s what prompts him to ask this question of God in verse 21.

 

And any good theology student (you don’t even have to have studied a lick of theology to pick up on the answer to this one) will tell you, God has forgiven every transgression and taken away all iniquity. As soon as we ask for it, God grants grace. That is at the very core of who He is.

 

That is the blessed assurance that we have in Christ Jesus. It’s my favorite hymn of all time: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.” Does it get any better than that?

 

Here is just one facet of what Jesus Christ offers those who rest in Him: you no longer face the punishment of God. All of that wrath, every single bit of it, fell on Jesus at Calvary. That means that any pain, suffering or trial that you are currently going through is NOT punishment. It’s a test designed to grow you more perfectly into the image of God! That’s not going to make it hurt less, but it will give you reason to rejoice through it. God has counted you worthy of this trial and will give you His Spirit to guide you through it.

 

If I had to give the book of Job a subtitle, it would be this: “How to suffer well, so that Christ is glorified.” That is exactly what Job does. He suffers well. It doesn’t look pretty and there are times when Job wishes he were dead, but in the end, God judges that Job has suffered well.

 

Let us learn from Job, so that when we stand before God, He can tell us that we too suffered well. And never doubt that there is now NO condemnation in Jesus Christ – your punishment has been taken care of – your trials now are for your benefit, in this life or the next.

May 13, 2017

May 13, 2017

2 CHRONICLES 9-12

Focus Verse: When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 12:1

 

I firmly believe that this is the most dangerous place to be in our walk with Jesus. So many Christians are concerned with what to do through the trials of life, through the desert seasons, that we almost completely ignore how to walk with God through the good times. In my experience, the good times are far more dangerous than the trials.

 

Sure, the trials in life can cause you to walk away from the faith completely. People assume that since they aren’t currently experiencing any goodness (that they can see) that God has stopped being good. This is certainly not the case, but that can be hard to see sometimes when we are struggling.

 

Many times though, it is the trials in our lives that cause us to dig in deeper with God. In the struggles, we realize the desperate truth of the human condition, the truth of the Gospel: we can’t, but Jesus did and can through His Holy Spirit in us.

 

The good times, on the other hand, work directly against that Gospel definition. If we aren’t ever so careful when things are going well and we feel strong, we can slowly start to pull control out of God’s hands and start taking more and more ownership over things that were never ours to being with. It’s our wealth, our possessions, our talents, our church…

 

I just keep writing about this, and it makes sense because it really is where we have to start every day: we must approach God with humility. We have to be poor in Spirit.

 

Every. Single. Day.

 

This is the only way we can fight complacency when things are going well. It’s the only way we can keep our hands off of the wheel and continue to let God use us, especially in areas where we feel comfortable doing it on our own.

 

Let’s be honest, we have the God who created the entire universe offering to empower us to do His will…why in the world would we want to do any of it by our power?

May 4, 2017

May 4, 2017

1 CHRONICLES 9-11

Focus Verse: So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.
1 Chronicles 10:13-14

 

When we walk out of the presence of the Lord, we no longer carry His blessing with us. Every promise that He has made to us, every good and perfect thing His will has in store for us, it’s all null and void if we aren’t following His will. Saul found this out the hard way.

 

We have to make one clear distinction here before we move on. This DOES NOT mean that you won’t go through trials. The New Testament Church knew this well. What it does mean though, is that your trials have a purpose. God has some good planned on the other side of them. If you aren’t following God, then when life sucks, that’s all there is to it. God is the only One that gives difficult season in life a purpose and a meaning.

 

Back to the bulk of today’s topic. Saul walked out on the promises of God by being disobedient to Him. Believe it or not, that isn’t what got him the boot from God’s presence. If that were the case we’d all be toast. Saul’s problem came when he continually refused to turn away from his disobedience, acknowledge he’d messed up and come back to God for forgiveness.

 

David, who took over as King of Israel after Saul, made plenty of mistakes, but he always repented and turned back to God. It’s that humble heart that God desires. It’s that trust in Him to take us back and empower us to do what we can’t on our own.

 

So the question becomes, why? Why is God always so quick to take us back when we ask for forgiveness? If you want to get real, a perfectly holy, all-powerful God who demands justice would be better off smiting us than trying to save us. At the minimum, He should have cast us out of His presence for failing to live up to our end of the deal.

 

And He did.

 

Jesus Christ took on our punishment on the cross, but the worst part had nothing to do with the physical death that He suffered. The most excruciating part of Christ’s sacrifice, the only part in the Gospel account of His crucifixion we are told that He cried out, was when God removed Jesus from His presence because of our sins.

 

THAT is the reason God is so quick to forgive us when we turn to Him. THAT is why we can be reconciled to Him. THAT is why we never have to be afraid of God turning away from us. Any trial we go through is God growing us, not God turning away from us. Because God turned away from Jesus, even though Jesus did nothing to deserve it, He will never turn away from us. His presence is with us wherever we go, Jesus made sure of that!

April 5, 2017

April 5, 2017

2 SAMUEL 1-3

Focus Verse: Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, just as everything the king did pleased all the people.
2 Samuel 3:36

 

David’s actions here pleased the people of Israel…but let’s make absolutely no mistake, that is not why David did them. David was honored God first and it just so happened that it pleased the people. As followers of Christ, we have to get the idea out of our head that this is always the case. In fact, I would argue that most of the time this is the exception to the rule. Most of the time when we honor God first, the people around us, especially those who may not understand why we choose to honor God, aren’t pleased at all by our choices.

 

I’ve been hitting on this a lot lately, but I really believe this is one of the most pivotal steps in becoming a world changing follower of Jesus Christ. It’s what God has been speaking to me on a daily basis.

 

We honor God in everything we do. We follow Him with everything we have. We are obedient, perfectly obedient, to everything He tells us. Outside of that, nothing else matters.

 

I know it sounds kind of pompous, but it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of us. “Well what if it turns other non-believers off?” is the common cry from those within the Christian community. The problem with this is that there is not a single place in scripture where we are told to concern ourselves with what others think about us.

 

We are told in multiple places to live in a way that no one can say anything bad about us, but in no way is the emphasis there on what they’re saying. The emphasis is on living a holy life because God is holy!

 

Seek His approval…and don’t even worry about whether or not that leads to the approval of men. Obedience to HIM. That’s all that matters.