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 …

 

God CAN Do It All!

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19.26

This verse is short but filled with a powerful truth. I shouldn’t be surprised, but after 50+ years of ministry, I still hear people say things like, “God’s can’t do that.” We have all heard the phrase, “Think outside the box”, but I fear that many of God’s children want to put God IN a box. Not only is that not a wise thing to do; but if our view of God is limited, then our daily life and our prayer life are subject to being bound by the borders of the box into which we have put God.

Since these words are from the lips of Jesus, we must make the choice to believe them or live a life of fear, frustration, disappointment, and that would be calling God a liar. I don’t think anyone wants to go there. Now I know these words have a context and I don’t want to try to make them say something they don’t really say. But you and I can take these words, “with God all things are possible” and believe them in any circumstance. Remember, there is a difference in what God CAN do and what He CHOOSES to do.

Think for a moment – when was the last time you can remember being in a difficult situation and only God could bring you through it? Were you reluctant to ask God, did you seek to solve it for yourself first, or did you go immediately to the throne of grace to find help in a time of need? I am willing to gladly admit that I come to God first a lot more times in my life now than I did when I was younger. That gives me a freedom to live my life without thinking I must solve every problem myself. I am glad that “with God all things are possible.” I want each of us to take this truth with us through today and then for the rest of our lives. Just my thoughts …

Glorify God HOW?

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.15-16

Peter has two thoughts running side by side here and we need to hearken to both of them. His first concept here is that our suffering ought not be because we have done something we should not have done, such as murder, stealing, evil doing, or sticking our nose into someone else’s business. We may need to read that last one again and ask God to deliver us from being too noisy.

Then he tackles the concept of a Christian suffering. Looking back at the book of Job, we see Job’s friends ASSUMING that Job is suffering because he has done something wrong. Not just one of them makes that claim, but all four of them. So when you and I see another brother or sister in Christ suffering, let’s not assume they have done something wrong and God is punishing.

If you are the one who is suffering, there is no shame in suffering. And God alone may be the only one who knows WHY you are suffering, and He may choose not to reveal that to you. So what is the attitude that we should take if we are suffering? Peter tells us: “let him glorify God on this behalf.” You may ask, “How can God be glorified in my suffering?” Is it possible that God is allowing you or me to suffer to show those who are watching us that God is enough – even in our suffering? I think there are times when we neglect to think that our suffering may not be about us at all. It may be about those around us who are waiting to see how we respond to our suffering.

It is also possible that God allows us to suffer so that we can do as Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” While these are just my thoughts, they are worthy of our consideration …

This Is REAL Trust

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4

When you read the phrase, “I will not fear what flesh can do unto me”, what comes to your mind? David certainly had occasion to fear flesh – especially when Saul wanted to kill him. So, what can we draw from this verse that will help US? David’s opening words give us the secret to not fearing what flesh can do to us.

In God I will praise his word … ” You may ask what does praising God have to do with overcoming fear of the flesh? We cannot, we will not, give praise to a powerless God. On the contrary, when we realize not just who our God is, but also come to understand His immensity and His power, praising Him is the natural by-product of KNOWING God in an intimate way. When Paul said in Philippians 3.10: “That I may know Him … ”, this word know is the same one used to describe a man knowing a woman in an intimate way. That is how we want to know God.

Now, David says: “ … in God I have put my trust … ” We exercise trust everyday in so many different ways. We walk into a room and sit on a chair that we trust. We flip a light switch because we trust the power company to supply the power. We get in our cars and start them, trusting it will take use where we want to go. So when it comes to trusting God, we need to use our trust in a greater degree because our ability to trust God more and more enables us to “not fear what flesh can do unto (us).” This is such a liberating place to be – knowing that God is worthy of our praise, is worthy of our trust, and is able to deliver us from whatever “flesh” may want to do to us. Just my thoughts …

The Great Acceptance!

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6.37

Those of us who have already come to Christ for salvation realize the truth of this first statement. The Father’s desire is for all men to be saved (2 Peter 3.9) and He does not override our will. He could make us robots and we would not have any say in the matter, but He gave Adam a free will and He did the same for us.

I want us to look closely at this second phrase: “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Over the years I have heard so many people make this statement: “How do I know that God will save me? Just asking seems so simple.” In Romans 10.13 we read: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is as clear as God can make it.

But let’s think for a moment about the phrase, “I will in no wise cast out.” There is no need to worry whether or not we are going to do something that will cause God to be so angry with us that He puts us out of the family. In fact, as I have stated before, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His unconditional love for us was clearly demonstrated at Calvary. No one ever came to God for salvation and heard Him say, “Your sin is too great. I can’t save you.” On the contrary, we read these words from Paul’s pen: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of who I am chief.” (1Timothy 1.15) The conclusion that you and I draw from this is simply that God is willing to take anyone who is willing to accept Christ’s payment for his sin. Every sinner qualifies. Not all sinners are willing to accept Christ’s payment. Just my thoughts …

The Absolute Certainty of God’s Love

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8.35-39

When professing Christians say something like “I don’t know if God really loves me. It sure doesn’t seem like it”, there is one thing I know … they have never read these verses and believed them wholeheartedly. Paul first asks what can separate us from the love of Christ. Then he spells out some circumstances that can occur to each one of us. And then he answers his own question: “37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Then in the last two verses he tells us the things that CAN NEVER separate us from the love of Christ. Let’s look: (1) death, (2) life, (3) angels, (4) principalities, (5) powers, (6) things present, (7) things to come, (8) height, (9) depth, (10) any other creature. I don’t see that he has missed any thing in this list. When it seems that God’s love has been removed from us, it is time to take a long, hard look into our own hearts to see who we have placed on the throne in place of God. Tough times come to EVERY believer. Disappointments come to EVERY believer. Trials come to EVERY believer. Where is God in all of these circumstances? He is exactly where He was when they placed His Son on the cross. He didn’t go away then and He is not going away now. Just my thoughts …

Thanksgiving Leads to Thankful Living!

O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. ” Psalm 105.1

Each day, as the Lord gives me a verse for my blog, I am amazed at how much I need that verse, even if no one else is blessed. Today is no different. The psalmist reminds you and me to “give thanks unto the Lord … ” You and I both know that a thankful person is someone we enjoy being around. Their whole outlook on life is different and it rubs off on us. The truth of the matter is, no one should ever have to remind us to be thankful. So often I have been reminded that God’s goodness is only exceeded by His grace.

Let’s see if this phrase can be incorporated into our conversations for today. When we are talking with others, it is ok to say that God has been good to us and we are THANKFUL. It is ok to say that God has blessed us in some particular way and we are THANKFUL. We need to respond to the Spirit’s prompting to give God credit for His blessings and to let others know about them.

Look at these phrases together: “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. ” I see a progression of thought here in all three phrases: (1) give thanks, (2) call upon his name, and (3) make known his deeds. When we call upon God’s name, we are coming to OUR God who knows all about us and who is waiting to hear us call so He can answer. Are there times when God doesn’t answer? Indeed there are. But His knowledge, His timing, and His answer will come in the way and at the right time and we may be surprised at what He does – but His way is perfect (Psalm 18.30).

Finally, we can and must make known His deeds among the people. It is not only our RESPONSIBILITY to make His deeds known. It is our PRIVILEGE to make His deeds known. It looks to me like we both have a great day before us – so let’s give thanks, call upon His name, and make His deeds known. Just my thoughts …

When Was the Last Time You Were Alone with God?

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46.10

Remember hen you were a kid and your mom used to say, “Would you just be still?” That was especially effective if she used my full name. Well, in this verse God is saying to us, “Be still, and know that I am God:” The fast pace of our culture seems to make it difficult for us to just be still for anything. But if we are going to LISTEN to God when He whispers, we really need to “be still.” Do you have a time anywhere during the day when you are alone with God – just God and you? Before someone has a heart attack and wants to tell me how busy they are, I get it. But you CARVE OUT time to do anything else you want to do.

If God is nothing more than a divine errand boy, you don’t have a God at all, you have a servant. That brings us to the next phrase: “I will be exalted among the heathen.” You ask, “How is God going to pull that off?” and my answer is that I don’t know, but He says, “I will …” and I know He will. But WHY can’t He be exalted in our lives? Are we so preoccupied or unwilling to grant God permission to be glorified in us? IF I am God’s child (and I am), then any changes that need to be made in order for God to be exalted in me must be changes that I am willing to make. God is just waiting … and waiting … and waiting for us to get things together.

Finally, this final phrase: “I will be exalted in the earth.” WOW, I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of what God is doing on this earth to glorify Himself. I want to be a vessel that He is willing to use to execute His plan. You and I know that God will not use a dirty vessel, so it is OUR responsibility to keep our vessel clean and available to God. Once again, these are just my thoughts …

How Big Is YOUR God?

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Ephesians 3.20-21

What is the hardest thing you ever asked God? Was it something you knew He could do or was it something that you thought He might not be ABLE to do? I love the words of v. 20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us … ” Not only is God ABLE to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”. He is also willing.

“ … exceeding abundantly above … ” Think on those words. I don’t think most of us have even come close to asking God for the difficult things. Paul tells us here that God is able to more than we can even THINK to ask. And He does that through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us: “according to the power that worketh in us … ” Just about the time I think I am beginning to understand who God is, I read a verse like this and I think, I don’t know the extent of how much God wants to help me at all. I can’t recall a time when I have challenged God with something I thought was really big, and the Holy Spirit reminded me, “God’s Got This! Just watch!”

We must not overlook v. 21: “21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus … ” Did you catch that? “be glory in the church … ” God is to be glorified in our churches through the person of His Son – and how long is that to be? “ … throughout all ages, world without end. Amen … ” And when you have said “Amen” you can’t say anymore. Just my thoughts …

God Loves ALL the World!

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3.9

If there was ever any question about God’s heart when He sacrificed His Son on the cross, it is surely answered here. How can anyone reach the conclusion that Christ died for a select few when Peter states so clearly that God is “not willing that any should perish … ”? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if WE really believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2: “And he (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”).

Peter reminds us that God “is longsuffering to usward … ” If any one of the apostles understood the longsuffering heart of God, it was Peter. When we consider the various events in Peter’s life that Christ went through with him and saw him recover, we can grasp something of Peter’s heart. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21 when He asked Peter, “do you love me?” and Peter said, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

The last phrase in the verse above is worth considering: “all should come to repentance.” Who is the “all” here? It is the world for whom Christ died. The tragic thing today is that there are so many in our world that have never heard the name of Christ. They don’t even know that God has a Son and that He died for their sins. Let me ask a question that I have asked before in previous blogs. Is it God’s fault that so many in the world have never the message or is it the fault of the local New Testament church who has failed to send missionaries to remote villages and lands where no white man has ever been seen? I realize the church cannot send someone until they have SURRENDERED all to Christ and have been trained to go. But, an honest question here, are our churches asking for people to surrender – teens, college students, young couples, you name it. Could it be that WE need to pray for God to call some and if He calls US, will we go? Just my thoughts …