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 …

Do I Know Whose I Am?

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour and life.” Proverbs 22.4

When I was in Bible College, we used to jokingly say to our friends, “Have you read my new book, Humility and How I Obtained It?” We were joking about something about which we knew very little. Humility is not something about which any Christian should make jokes. As the verse above states, it is a significant part of a life of intentional service for Christ.

So what is humility? May I suggest that humility is realizing who I am and in Whose sight I am living? How can any child of God view himself in any other way than humble when he realizes that the Creator God of heaven and earth made the choice to redeem him through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ? How does that make one rich, as the verse states? We are rich through our RELATIONSHIP with God through Christ. We are rich in the promise we cling to of an eternal RESIDENCE in heaven. We are rich in the REALIZATION that the immutable God who saved us will keep us without fail. The list is almost limitless.

The PROMISE FOUND in these words should lift one’s spirit today. “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.” When I see God for who He really is (the fear of the Lord), I am promised (1) riches, and (2) honour and (3) life. Another translation reads like this: “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.” We are honored by God if we never find honor among men. It does not matter how this world sees us as long as we are walking in humility before God and we fear Him in the true sense of that word.

This word life can hold so many thoughts. But I want to focus our attention on the promise of everlasting life. What greater honor can God bestow upon His children that giving them the PROMISE and POSSESSION of everlasting? I can think of nothing greater. Just my thoughts …

How Much Is “So”?

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3.16

I am constantly amazed at the way people who are professing believers characterize God. Instead of viewing Him as a loving Heavenly Father, they characterize Him as some despot in some far off place who is waiting to zap one of His children if they step out of line. That may seem a little harsh to some, but over the years I have heard that concept suggested more than once.

So, what is John telling us here in this verse? He is telling us how we RECOGNIZE the love of God. “He laid down his life for us … ” If there were ever a question about HOW MUCH God loves us, that question was answered at Calvary. A kindred verse with this one is John 3.16: “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.

Some times we quote that verse from memory with little thought for what we have just said. What more could God the Father do to demonstrate His love for us? He only had ONE son and He sent him to DIE for my sin and your sin. The question that we as God’s children must never ask is this, “I wonder how much God loves me?” His love cannot be measured.

A little boy was playing while his father was reading the paper. He went over to where his dad was sitting and tugged on the paper and said, “Daddy, I love you a hundred dollar’s worth.” That was the largest amount of money he could imagine. He went back to playing. In a little bit, he went back over to his dad again, tugged on the paper again, and said, “Daddy I love you a hundred miles worth.” That was the greatest measure he could think of. After playing a few minutes more, he went back to his dad one more time, tugging on the paper. This time he said, “Daddy, I love you SO much.” That could not be measured. Then he was happy and went on playing.

God SO loved the world … you and me … and that love cannot be measured. Just my thoughts…

Show the Love God Has Shown You

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5.8

This whole week our hearts and minds have been on the crucifixion and resurrection if Christ. If someone were to ask “Which one is more important?” I would have to say that you cannot separate them one from the other. Both Christ’s death AND His resurrection are essential for the plan of salvation to be completed. IF He only dies, then the grave wins and Satan says, “I win!” But praise the Lord on the third day Christ AROSE.

The verse above gives us one of the clearest declarations of God’s love for us. It was because of God’s love that He sends our way that Christ went to the cross. And that display of God’s love was done “while we were yet sinners.” Make no mistake; God did not save us because we are somehow worthy of being saved. He saved us because He loves us and the perfect sacrifice was made in His Son.

The thing about which you and I must be concerned is this; is what are we doing TODAY show God and the watching world that we love Him and He has made such a difference in us that others want to change their lives because they see Jesus in us? As we work our way through this Easter weekend, let’s pay special attention to the opportunities that God provides us to be a verbal witness to those whom we encounter.

There must be no hypocrisy such as that displayed by the Pharisees in the New Testament. They were all concerned about how they LOOKED to those who were watching. Jesus called them “whited sepulchers” and said they were full of dead men’s bones. Take a moment, bow your head, give your all into the hands of God’s Holy Spirit and watch what God can do through you. Just my thoughts …

 

A Pay Check or a Gift – You Decide!

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6.23

I remember my first job. I started passing papers for the Cincinnati Enquirer. It was a morning paper that meant I had to get up pretty early to deliver the papers. I was excited to be receiving an income, although it was somewhat meager. I liked having a “wage” coming in. My first regular job was working in a shoe store. And again, I appreciated a wage after I had finished my work.

Funny thing about Satan, he says he is going to pay a wage to all who spend their entire life serving him. But I am afraid most people who are serving him haven’t really thought the “wages of sin.” The verse written above says that the wage Satan is offering is death.

This is a very special weekend in the lives of many people. Some churches offer a Good Friday service for those who want to attend. It has been my experience over the years that many people who don’t normally attend church like to attend Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Here is a bit of information that they need to think about. Satan doesn’t really care if you attend church – Good Friday, Easter, Christmas – as long as you don’t get radical and begin believing that God can change your life for the better. Satan doesn’t even care if you read the Bible, as long as it never changes you.

Now let me ask a question. Would you rather receive a wage that promises to send you into a Christless eternity or a gift that will guarantee a place in heaven because you have received eternal life? This GIFT of eternal life is what Christ is offering to all those who will take the time to hear the message of hope that brings eternal life.

I don’t understand how someone can hear the gospel message of hope and then reject it because they want to go on enjoying their life of sin. The greatest GIFT I have ever received in ETERNAL LIFE and want to do all in my power to help others enjoy that gift too. Just my thoughts …

Something to Think About!

On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, (13) Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” John 12.12-13

Most of us know what a “fickle crowd” is. They act one was at one moment, and then do the exact opposite the next moment. The “much people” mentioned in the verse above would certainly fit the mold of a “fickle crowd.” On Sunday – Palm Sunday, named for the branches of palm trees that were used to welcome Jesus to Jerusalem – shouted His praise on Sunday, but on the next Wednesday they shouted “Crucify Him” (John 19.6). That is a dramatic change if I have ever seen one.

I would quickly acknowledge that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were the ones responsible for calling for His crucifixion. They were the ones who worked the crowd up into a frenzy. Look at their praise: “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Here they were recognizing that Jesus really was the King of the Jews. He was who Pilate said He was: “king of the Jews”. (John 18.33)

Let’s step away for a moment from this scene over 2000 years ago and ask ourselves this question: “How do I treat Jesus in my daily life? Do I live as though He is REALLY the king of my life?” There is a great old hymn whose words to the first verse and chorus go like this:

King of my life, I crown Thee now,

Thine shall the glory be;

Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow,

Lead me to Calvary

Lest I forget Gethsemane;

Lest I forget Thine agony;

Lest I forget thy love for me,

Lead me to Calvary.

What needs to change in your life and mine before He actually becomes the king of our lives? Could it be absolute surrender to His ultimate and absolute lordship in our lives? Something to think about! Just my thoughts …