for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3.23

    Let’s suppose for a moment that you and I need to jump across a chasm that is 10 feet wide. When I make my attempt, I miss the other side by about 3 feet. When you make you jump, you only miss the other side by six inches. The truth of the matter is, neither one of us made it across. We both fell short of the goal.

    Now, let’s keep that concept in mind when we look at this verse. I don’t think anyone really quarrels with the idea that we are all sinners. I have only met one person in my sixty plus years of ministry who said that he was NOT a sinner. (But he was.) we tend, however, to want to quantify this matter of being a sinner. I am not as BAD a sinner as the person in prison who has killed someone. Or I am not as BAD a sinner as the person down the street who is abusive to his wife and children. You can name any comparison that you want. But we are all sinners and sin is just sin.

    So, what does that mean, in light of this verse? We have all “come short of the glory of God;” None of us has achieved perfection, which is what God requires in order to get into His heaven. So, how does ANYONE get there? Glad you asked. God’s Son, Jesus, the only perfect One, stands in my place before the Father and says, “He’s perfect. I paid for his sin. He can come in.” I qualify vicariously because Jesus died in my place. He did not fall short of His Father’s glory. He bridged the chasm of sin for me. Praise His Holy Name! Just my thoughts …

God Said It – That’s Enough!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3.16-17

    How many times have you been reading the Scripture and you read something and thought to yourself, “That can’t be right!”? Of course, you knew in your heart-of-hearts that it was right. And how did you know that? Because “All scripture is given by inspiration of God … ” God did not just make a suggestion to Moses, David, or Paul that they should write something dealing with a specific topic. God said, “Write this down.” Why is it important, necessary, that we believe in inspiration?

    “All scripture … is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” It would be wonderful if when we got saved, we automatically knew everything we needed to know to live for God. But, just as a baby is born with a complete brain but has to learn what to do as he/she grows older, we have to learn what we need to be and do as we grow in the Lord. Hence, we need doctrine. We need reproof because we may not always know where the boundaries are. We need correction sometimes because we step across the line and don’t always know how to get back where we need to be. We need instruction in righteousness simply because we DON’T know everything we need to know.

    These things are important because God wants His best for us: “ … that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” I believe that deep-down-inside we all want to be the best we can be for God. That being said, let’s stay in the book and learn what we can to be the best we can. Just my thoughts …

Let’s Do Mercy!

Let’s Do Mercy!

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6.36

    Here is a real challenge for us all: “Be ye therefore merciful … ” We look at those around us, many of whom may treat us poorly, and we think to ourselves, “They don’t deserve mercy. They deserve judgment.” And you may be exactly right. But let’s refresh our memories as to what mercy is. Mercy is NOT GETTING WHAT YOU DO DERSEVE. So, Jesus’ instructions to us here is for us to grant others, not what they deserve, but what they do NOT deserve. When I think of my past, and how God has treated me, there has never been a time when I DESERVED mercy. How do you think this unsaved world would react if we as Christ followers treated them with mercy instead of a judgmental spirit? They EXPECT us to judge them. They don’t expect us to grant them mercy.

    Then Jesus puts things into perspective for us: “ … as your Father also is merciful.” When we consider how our heavenly Father treats us, we must remember that He has always dealt with us in mercy. It is NEVER something that we have earned. It is ALWAYS something He chooses to do out of His great love for us. Can we allow His love for us to flow through us to others with whom we interact? That action will reflect to this lost world an image of Christ that is totally unexpected but one that may draw others toward Him. I believe that should be our daily goal. Just my thoughts …

Go Ahead – Study!

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2.15

    We have a ministry in our church called the AWANA program. I’m sure many who are reading this do to. The word AWANA is an acrostic for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed. It is commendable that we want to invest in our children and equip them to live for God as they grow up. But what about us? These words are to US: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God … ” You say, “I don’t have time to study.” Do you have time to watch TV? Do you have time to play sports or take your children to their various activities? Let me suggest that we make time to do whatever is important to us. If studying the Word of God is NOT important to you, then obviously you won’t make time for it. I am not suggesting a large amount of time, but I am suggesting that we find SOME time to study. “I don’t have any tools,” you say. Do you have a Bible? It would be good to have a good Bible dictionary and perhaps a good one volume commentary, but these are not essential. The Holy Spirit can use your Bible and help you study.

     Anybody ever ask you a Bible question that you couldn’t answer? I have had a lot of those. It isn’t wrong to say “I don’t know the answer.” But it is wrong not to attempt to find the answer. It is important that we learn to “rightly divide the word of truth.” What does that mean? It means understand that we must not take a verse out of context. Understand WHAT was being said, to WHOM it was being said, and WHY it was being said. That will give you some powerful insight to what you are studying. Just my thoughts …

Ask Whatsoever!

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11.24

    Prayer is such an important part of every believer’s life. We may not view it that way, but these words of Jesus indicate the importance of prayer. Notice He does not say “If” you pray, but “when ye pray”. The assumption, the implication is that we DO pray. Notice this phrase: “What things soever ye desire … ” You say, “Wait a minute. I don’t get everything I want from God. What’s the big deal?” Let me suggest that when MY desires line up with GOD’S desires for me, THEN I get whatsoever I desire. I think that so often our desires are things that will simply satisfy our flesh and have nothing to do with glorifying God. So, when I am willing to say to God that I want Him to determine my desires, He is then in a position to grant this last phrase.

    “…  believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” If I begin my prayer with, “He’s not going to do this. But I am going to ask anyway”, there is no “believe” in that prayer. I’m just wasting God’s time and mine too. “Believe” is such a key element in our prayer life. When my desires and God’s desires for me line up, there is no reason for Him NOT to give me what I ask for, because I am not going to ask for anything that is not consistent with His will for me. So, our assignment for today is to release our desires to Him and let Him create His desires in us. And then, to pray, BELIEVING that what we pray is consistent with His will, and watch our great God do what only He can do. Wow! Let’s get going! Just my thoughts …

Fear vs. Love!

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4.18

    There are four distinct statements in this verse that are worthy of our consideration: (1) there is no fear in love, (2) perfect love casts out fear, (3) fear has torment, and (4) the one who fears is not made perfect in love. Any one of those is powerful, but taken all together, John is giving us a deep lesson in theology. Let’s examine it.

    “There is no fear in love … ” On the surface that seems easy enough to believe, but why? Fear and love are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when dealing with our emotions. Fear creates a feeling of uneasiness that we cannot overcome without SOMETHING to override it. Love, on the other hand, reflects a sense of acceptance that is not rocked by something it does not understand. “…  perfect (mature) love casteth out fear … ” Love that has developed a sense of maturity is able to override the fear and dispel it.

    “ … fear hath torment.” Most everyone knows the torment associated with fear, especially when we do not have a way to override or overcome it. Here is the key: “He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Since fear and love are at the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, overcoming fear is the exercise of a love that has become mature because it has experienced a lot of issues and has trusted God to allow that love to override fear and trust God – no matter what. Just my thoughts …

The Servant of Christ!

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1.10

    Paul poses a very significant question here: “ … do I seek to please men?” I’m sure all of us know people who spend their entire lives trying to please men. Maybe you are one of those people. Pleasing men is about making US feel good. But you have heard me deal with this subject before. Where is the focus of our lives? Are we focusing on what WE want, or on what GOD wants for us? You may be thinking, “But I have to see this person every day” or “I am married to this person” or “I want to make everybody happy.” Let me remind us all that we cannot make everybody happy. And that must never become our goal in life.

    Look carefully at these words: “if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” I wonder how many of us have come to grips with this great truth? We are to be the servants of Christ. Being the servant of Christ is not just a once-in-a-while project. Being the servant of Christ should be the singular focus of our lives. Is that easy? Absolutely not! But, is our goal reaching the world or trying to make everybody happy? Once I realize that I cannot possibly make everybody happy, as a Christ-follower my focus needs to become serving Christ in whatever way He wants. Life is no longer about me. It suddenly becomes all about Him. Think about it. Pray about it. Work on it. Just my thoughts …

Let’s Listen to Jesus!

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4.4

    These are the words of Jesus. That gives them significance he is drawing a contrast for us that is important. We never skip a meal because our bodies want to eat three times a day. We respond to the needs of our bodies because we must. But Jesus gives us a very important single word here. It is the word “alone”. He is not saying that we shouldn’t eat. He is saying that we must add to our regular meals “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

    What does that mean? I believe that Jesus is saying that we need to hear from God every day. The only way you and I can do that today is to read the Word of God. I am amazed at the large number of Christ followers who think that reading the Bible is not a necessary essential in their lives. But they regularly sit down to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the same manner that my physical body demands that I feed it regularly, my inner spirit cries out for daily sustenance from the Word of God. Try getting up in the morning and saying to your body, “You don’t need breakfast today. It isn’t really necessary.” That won’t take your hunger away. So, don’t say to your inner spirit, “you don’t really need to hear from God every day. That’s just something somebody told you.” Yes, and that somebody was Jesus. Just my thoughts …

Be An Overcomer!

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12.21

    These are two very powerful statements, neither of which we can do on our own. How does one go about NOT being “overcome of evil”? One thing for certain is that we are not strong enough to resist Satan in our own strength. Without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, we have no power at all. So, in order to not be overcome of evil, we must submit our will to the Holy Spirit’s control. That is not a simple once-for-all decision and you are done with it. It is something that you and I must do on a daily basis and sometimes more than once a day. When I think I am smarter than God on a certain issue, I have just messed up big time. I will never know all He knows about it and I cannot see what even the next step will bring. So, let’s seek God’s help in not being overcome of evil.

    “overcome evil with good.” Here we are at another situation that requires God’s help. We are NOT inherently good people, even after we are saved. We still have an old Adamic nature that still wants to sin. So, if we are going to overcome evil with good, this again requires the guidance and strength of God’s Holy Spirit. I CAN do good when I am willing to let God make my choices for me. That means the focus of my life cannot be ME, but it must be GOD. I think we have our work cut out for us in following these two statements by Paul. Let’s pursue them both with all our hearts. just my thoughts …

Wash Me – Cleanse Me!

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51.1-2

    I think most of us remember that Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance following his sin with Bathsheba. But it certainly contains vital truth for us to follow too.

    Notice first his plea to God: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness … ” David acknowledges what you and I must acknowledge daily, that our God is a God of mercy. God’s mercy is a fruit of His lovingkindness. You and I cannot live one day without God’s mercy or His lovingkindness. Never forget that.

    Then David asks God to blot out his transgressions: “according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” We may want to categorize some sins as being worse than others, but just remember that sin is sin. David appeals again to God’s mercy. I don’t know about you, but I appeal to His mercy daily. I thank Him for His mercy. David doesn’t ask God to overlook his sin. He asks God to blot out his sin. God NEVER overlooks our sin. He is always willing to BLOT OUT our sin. Praise His name.

    Verse 2 uses two very important words: “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” David appeals to God to WASH him and to CLEANSE him. I view washing as immediate and cleansing as long term. David asks God to wash him throughly. We use the word “thoroughly” today. It describes a very complete cleansing. That is what God does with all our sins when we confess them. I hope we can see from these verses the necessity of confession and the thoroughness of God’s cleansing. Just my thoughts …