What a God! What a Gift! What a Sacrifice!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3.16

Before I had graduated from Bible College, I was called to serve in a church in Arlington, TX. I was the music director (we call them worship leaders today [lol]). Shortly after arriving there, one of the teachers of the 2-year-old children came to me and said, “Bro. Burton, I would like for you to visit my class this Sunday and hear something from my 2 yr. olds.” I said, “I will be there.” When I walked in, she said, “Children, let’s show Bro. Burton what we have learned recently.” And they began reciting John 3.16 – perfectly. Not only was she proud of them, but I was so thankful that they learned this powerful truth at such an early age.

How do we measure the dimensions of the word “so” here in this verse? The love of God for this world was not greater than His love for His Son, but He loved His Son so much and knew that NOTHING else but His perfect sacrifice could satisfy the righteous demands of the law to completely pay for the sins of the world. Such great NEED and such great DEMAND could only come together in the place we call the “place of the skull.” What the Roman government thought they were doing was putting to death someone who kept the multitudes stirred up. But what they were really doing was carrying out God’s plan to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God planned it. The Roman government thought they orchestrated it. God the Son willingly carried it out, and God the Holy Spirit became a reality to believers as a result of it. Oh my dear friend, God GAVE. Have you RECEIVED? Just my thoughts …

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Free Grace for the Unworthy Sinner – Me!

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3.23-24

You’ve heard the expression, “I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” That is what we are looking at in these two short verses. The bad news is that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God … ” Although each one of us knows that he is a sinner, if this were the only piece of information we received, there would be no hope. To know that I am a sinner identifies my condition before God, but there is absolutely no indication of where I can turn to remedy my situation. This little phrase, “come short” quite simply means to “miss the mark.” If you and I are standing on the edge of a cliff, and the distance to the other side is only 20 feet, we may reason within ourselves that we can make that jump. But if I jump and only make it 10 feet and you jump and make it 19 feet, guess what? We both missed the mark. My grandfather used to say that “almost” counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

The good news is found in v. 24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Don’t you love the ring of the words “justified freely”? God says to us that our condition is hopeless if left up to us, but He is willing to justify us freely – how – “ by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” God says, “I will take care of everything, if you will let me.” This is such wonderful news for us to be able to share with those whom we know who are NOT justified freely by His grace. They just need to know how much God loves them and what He will do FOR them if they will just allow Him to do it. Just my thoughts …

Temptation Leads to Blessing!

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1.12

When I read this opening phrase, I am encouraged to know there is a close link between blessing and temptation. Every person reading this has experienced temptation. James tells us to (1) expect temptation and (2) endure temptation. We find these words in James 1.2-3: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” So what do we learn from these verses? We learn that there will be temptations and there will be many of them. We must not be SURPRISED when temptation comes. We must be able to recognize it and ask God for grace to endure it so we can be an overcomer and not a victim. That is when the blessing comes.

Here is further encouragement to endure temptation: “for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life … ” Notice that it is not “if” he is tried, but “when’ he is tried. When temptations come, keep the end in view … “he shall receive the crown of life … ” God’s reward for those who endure temptation is the crown of life. Think of it, God is going to give us this crown because we were overcomers and not victims. Far too many times believers get weary of the battle with temptation and throw up their hands and say, “What’s the use? I can’t seem to win this battle over this temptation.” “What’s the use?” you ask? The crown of life is the answer to “What’s the use?”.

Here is another wonderful word of encouragement: “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” This crown of life is God’s PROMISE to us, and God always keep His promises. So today, when temptation comes, remember that you are blessed when you endure, and remember the promise of the crown of life. Just my thoughts …

THE Light Is Necessary!

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1.9 – 12

We read these words in John 3.19-20: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” So when John says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world … ”, immediately we realize that there are two categories of people in this world: (1) those who walk in darkness and want to stay there, and (2) those who have chosen to walk in the light because Christ is the Light of the world.

What a paradoxical statement: “10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” As we draw near to the Christmas season, we will begin to hear Christmas carols. One of them says, “No room, only a stable of hay … ” This world system has never had room for God’s Son. But one day that will change. Romans 14.11 tells us: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

I love this next phrase: “12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” All the work of salvation has already been done. The only thing required of us is that we BELIEVE that what God has done through his son Jesus Christ is enough to save us for all eternity. Just my thoughts …

How Are You Walking Today?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2.10

Has Satan ever pulled this number on you? “You aren’t worth anything to God. Why would He choose to love you? Just take a look at your PAST. You think God can forgive that?” Sad to say, not only does he try that, but he tries it over and over in order to beat us down.

But look at Paul’s words here: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works … ” WE (you and I) are His workmanship. The work that Christ did on the cross allows God to help us with this “good works” thing. You want to take a look at someone’s past and ask “Can God forgive that?” The apostle Paul had been guilty of persecuting believers and even consenting to their death. Yes, God did forgive that because Christ paid for it.

Usually we connect this verse to the two verse preceding it: “For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of YOURSELVES: it is the GIFT of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Friend, everything we have is given to us by God’s grace … even the faith to believe is God’s gift to us.

This last phrase is a great word of encouragement: “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” What is it that God ordained before time began? He ordained that all those who trust Him and believe in His Son Jesus for salvation should be a walking example to the world because of our good works – works that only God could do THROUGH us. So what is our responsibility in all this? We are to yield to God’s Holy Spirit so that He CAN work in us and through us and manifest these good works of which Paul speaks. Just my thoughts …

 

 

A Life Like No Other!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11

Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.

The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.

Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.

When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …

A Pretty Good Exchange!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5.21

When you received Christ as your personal savior, did you ever wonder what happened to your sin? Most of us have heard enough preaching to know the answer to that question. But let’s look closely today at what Paul is telling the Corinthians and us in the verse above. He (God) has made him (Christ His Son) who knew no sin, to be made sin FOR us (in our place); and why? He did it so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Christ).

It will be worthwhile for us to grasp the significance of this truth – Christ being made sin for us. When Christ was born, in that Bethlehem manger, He was born to Mary and Joseph as far as the legal heritage was concerned. But Joseph was NOT the real father for we read in Luke 1.34-35: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary knew that this child she carried was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph.

This holy child lived a perfect life, went to the cross, and became the only sacrifice that God the Father would accept. While He was on that cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, byt also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2.2) He took our sin so that when we received His payment for our sin, we could take His righteousness. Remember Paul’s words: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I am so thankful for this divine transaction that made salvation available to me. I think you are too. Just my thoughts …

 

We ARE Blessed Indeed!

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Romans 4.6-8

I encourage you to read the verses preceding this for context. Paul’s words here bring great comfort to every believer who will read them and believe them. Consider this: “the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” How many people do we know who still believe they need to do some kind of “works” in order to get to heaven? David, back in Old Testament times said that the man is blessed to whom God imputes righteousness WITHOUT works. The work that Christ did on Calvary is what God imputes or puts on our account.

David continues: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Forgiveness of sin is only possible when a perfect sacrifice has been offered. That was Christ. Sins can only be covered when the blood of that perfect sacrifice is applied to the mercy seat and God says, “That’s enough!” Christ’s blood has covered ALL my sin and ALL your sin … because we have received Him as personal savior.

Finally, verse 8: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Again, why would God NOT impute MY sin to my account? The blessed truth is that Christ did everything that His Father required to pay for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2). HIS payment for MY sin allows me to be a blessed man –why? Because God the Father imputed my sin to Christ and Christ did all that the Father demanded for sin to be covered. God the Father forgave me because His Son PAID for my sins. I am BLESSED indeed! And so are you! Just my thoughts …

Fear? No! Power? Yes!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1.7

When we are fearful, there is one thing we must recognize – that fear did not come from our Heavenly Father: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear … ” One of Satan’s tactics is to bring you and me into a place of uncertainty that produces a fear of the unknown. The Bible says: “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.” John tells us here that while we are in a state of fear, our love cannot grow or mature. We are in a stagnant cycle in our walk with God.

So if God did NOT give us fear, what, then, did He give us? He gave us power. What kind of power and from whence does it come? It is the power of an overcomer, one who has discovered that fear and faith are polar opposites and I able to move forward because my faith has replaced my fear. This power is a gift from God’s Holy Spirit. The truth here is not that the Spirit dwells within us, but that He lives within us to give us the power of God to overcome fear.

The next thing God gives us in place of fear is love. What is the connection between fear and love? Fear is from our enemy and love is from our Heavenly Father. That seems somewhat simplistic, but wouldn’t you rather spend your day filled with the love of God flowing through you rather that move in a spirit of fear? I certainly would.

Finally, God gives us the spirit of a … sound mind. A sound mind enables us to make good decisions. It enables us to be in control of that part of our lives God gives us to oversee. Your sound mind enables you to discern the plan of God, own the plan of God, and begin to pursue the plan of God. Looks to me like a pretty good plan is in place for us if we will but accept God’s gifts of power, of love, and of a sound mind. Just my thoughts …

God’s Exclusive Gift to Us!

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 12For thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5.11-12

No other book speaks to the heart and life of the believer with the same power that the Bible does. When the psalmist writes: “… let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice … ” he is saying to us, “What ever else you are doing with your life, don’t forget to REJOICE.” I think we all know the difference between joy and happiness. Far too much of our time is spent chasing “happiness” when we should be reveling in the “joy” that only God can give.

“ … let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them … ” Why must our joy be a never ending thing? Because our God defends us – in everything, in every situation, anytime the need to be defended arises, let’s revel in God’s joy and let Him fight the battle. Here is another reason for joy: “let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” It seems relatively easy to say, “I love the Lord … “ but unless we are willing to go beyond the verbal declaration to a demonstration of that love in our lives, we are nothing more than a “sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.” (1 Corinthians 13.1)

V. 12 speaks great encouragement for each one of us: “12For thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” What does it mean, “thou, Lord wilt bless the righteous … ” It DOES NOT say that God will bless the perfect one who follow Christ. That person doesn’t exist. But when we make the choice to live a righteous life (a life filled with doing what is right), God says, “I will bless you.”

This last verse is meant to lift our spirits: “ … with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Compass us as with a shield … a shield is a weapon of defense. It keeps the enemy’s arrows, and whatever his other weapons of attack are, from reaching their destination and wounding the child of God. Please weigh these words and see what God wants you to hear and live accordingly. Just my thoughts …