Sunday, July 29, 2018

God’s Amazing Grace

The late D. Martin Lloyd-Jones provided an excellent picture of what grace is all about: “There is no
more wonderful word than 'grace.' It means unmerited favour or kindness shown to one who is utterly undeserving.” While the apostle Paul expressed grace this way: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV). No matter how one looks at it, God’s grace is a fact we need to accept that is anchored only in the personhood of Jesus Christ. He alone carried grace for humanity’s sake. During His lifetime, Jesus manifested it, and those who received it benefitted greatly from it. But most importantly, in His death and resurrection, He made it available to everyone who believes in Him. Unfortunately, there are those who also reject grace without considering the eternal impact of being separated from God.
No copyright infringement intended.

Throughout the pages of the Scriptures, illustrations of God’s amazing grace are continually revealed. Here are two examples of God's amazing grace for our learning and reminder: Adam and Eve clothed by God with the skin of an animal before leaving the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:21). The woman caught in adultery received grace from Jesus’ intervention: Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11, NIV). 

In these settings, while God extends grace, human beings must be willing to receive the favour offered by God. God provides grace, but humanity must accept it for its maximum benefit in one’s life. It is not just about receiving grace but living out God’s amazing grace on a daily basis.  

First, we begin by communicating God’s amazing grace to others in need through personal witnessing. Robert Murray M'Cheyne expressed it this way: There cannot be a secret Christian. Grace is like ointment hid in the hand; it betrayeth itself. If you truly feel the sweetness of the cross of Christ, you will be constrained to confess Christ before men.

Next, let’s do it by celebrating God’s amazing grace with others in the community of faith through personal testimony. Francis Chan explained how it works: We should be so joyful from God's grace that others would respond by saying, 'I wish I had your God. 

Lastly, it is by extolling God’s amazing grace as a witness to the unbelieving world through personal consecration. Andy Murray described it this way; “Time alone with the Lord Jesus each day is the indispensable condition of growth and power.”

As a personal example, being a father of two beautiful young adults, extending grace is a constant exercise in releasing it on a daily basis. At times, frustration and impatience occur. Nevertheless, withholding grace is never an option. What prompted me to extend grace? It is love and hope for a better tomorrow for my children. Here’s the gist: parenting with grace is showering them with much love and hope. 

Grace without these two ingredients is an exercise in futility. Similarly, God’s grace also includes love and hope for a better tomorrow. He wants the best for everyone who accepts His amazing grace. If you receive it, things happen for the better, but if you reject it, you’ll miss what could have been the best time of your life. May you receive His grace when He offers it to you today.

Let’s talk again!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Connecting Broken Bridges

We are living in a time of uncertainties where various opinions compete for our attention. Adding social media to the mix allowed many a platform for their views. While all of these things are significantly changing on a continual basis, we must find an anchor strong enough in carrying our stability through all of them. Otherwise, we will see ourselves pulled in every direction and left confused. Let’s find our balance, and in doing so, we gain the ability to navigate confidently through these opinions. G.K. Chesterton stated, “There are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.”
No copyright infringement intended

During Jesus’ time, a great divide stood between God and man. He declared Himself as the only Bridge to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). At the cross, God confirmed Jesus as the Bridge to Him: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 ESV). Now, it’s our turn to ensure these two things are relayed clearly to many people up in arms against one another in holding on tightly with their sentiments. But as for me, my opinion is squared firmly with God’s Word and its principles. 

Following the example of Jesus in bridging bridges is a top priority. He came with a specific mandate of building bridges between God and men. Thus, my role is keeping the bridge clear of obstacles for any individual I lead to Jesus. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman, He first created a bridge of communication when no one else dared because of the prevailing culture and resulted in the salvation of a whole community. How do we build bridges with others? Start by communicating God’s message of hope and love. It is by attracting them to see what Jesus did for humanity, and although there is a flipside of rejecting His offer, we focus instead on presenting eternity with God primarily. We never give up and give in because of rejection. We must expect these animosities and never surprised at them because Jesus forewarned us about them already. 

Here’s a great example of another strategy of building bridges through prayer as shared by George Mueller, the great Victorian Christian and social reformer: 

He tells a story of persistent prayer in his diary: In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land, on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day, I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remained unconverted. Thirty-six years later he wrote that the other two, sons of one of Mueller’s friends, were still not converted. He wrote, “But I hope in God, I pray on, and look for the answer. They are not converted yet, but they will be.” In 1897, fifty-two years after he began to pray daily, without interruption, for these two men, they were finally converted—but after he died![1] 

One thing is clear, George Mueller didn’t give up because of his faith in God’s saving power. No matter what we see and hear around us, keeping the bridge open is a top priority without giving up like George Mueller. Like Noah of old, he preached for 120 years and warned everyone of the impending floods. We know the result of his preaching didn’t persuade people. That’s why, in leading people to the bridge of life that is Jesus; we let people make their decision for eternity. Our role is sharing like Noah and praying like George Mueller then let God be God. 

Let’s talk again!


[1]Retrieved from https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/120117-mueller's-persistent-prayer

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Confessing our Sin

The promise given to anyone who approaches God with humility in seeking forgiveness is simple: “If
No copyright infringement intended
we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV). In this scenario, God is waiting for us and ready to forgive us until we decide to approach Him finally. Why is it important? Because when we finally take the step, we are admitting and confessing our sin. 
J. Hampton Keathley, III[1]explained, “The Greek word for confession in 1 John 1:9 is homologeo. This word means, “to speak the same language,” “to acknowledge, admit, agree with.” Confessing our sin is agreeing with God’s verdict of our sinfulness with the aim of restoring our broken fellowship with God. Lee Strobel shared this excellent insight:

Believing the right things about Jesus isn't enough. You're not adopted as God's child until you confess and turn away from your wrongdoing and receive the freely offered gift of forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased with his death on the cross.

Next, when we confess and acknowledge our sin to God, He responds because “…he is faithful…” God’s faithfulness never wavers and never ceases. The book of Lamentations described it distinctly: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (3:22-23). J. Stephen Lang[2]shared, “For the Christian, confession is not an option. We sin, and we confess, and our life with God goes on. It can't be otherwise.” Confessing our sin opens doors in His great vault filled with faithfulness.

Next, when we confess and acknowledge our sin to God, we can be assured that He will be  “…just to forgive us our sins…” Frederick Buechner shared, “To confess your sins to God is not to tell [God] anything [God] doesn't already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the bridge.” Fear always keeps anyone from doing this essential task. However, everything starts with this one thing towards mending our broken relationship with God because of sin and its effect. Let’s heed the prophet Isaiah’s counsel:  “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7, ESV).

Finally, when we confess and acknowledge our sin to God, He sees Jesus and His blood as the only means “…to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”Daniel Fuller provided this insight, “If God did not forgive the Christian who confesses and turns away from sin, God would become unrighteous by holding in contempt Christ's atoning work, whose purpose was to uphold God's glory.” Jesus came for the sole purpose of bridging God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness.  Without Christ, there’s no way for humanity to approach God. “Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe. If it is forgiven sin, it cost God His only Son. If it is unforgiven sin, it cost the sinner his soul and an eternity in hell”(Charles G. Finney). Thus, with Christ dying on the cross, He became the “only way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). 

The seriousness of God’s intent of providing a way out of our sinfulness came after Jesus gave up His ghost and the temple curtain split into two safeguarding the Holy of Holies. In His death, Jesus tore the veil representing the separation of man from God. And because of His atoning work, entering the throne of God with boldness became a reality for all of us (Hebrews 4:16). If we are sick and tired of our bad situation, the ball is in our court. Let’s set aside our pride and approach God with humility. Somebody said, 
            
Sometimes victory over sin comes quickly. Other times, victory comes more slowly. God has promised that as we make use of His resources, He will progressively bring about change in our lives. We can persevere in our efforts to overcome sin because we know that He is faithful to His promises. 

Let’s talk again!


[1]Retrieved from https://bible.org/seriespage/16-assurance-god-s-provision-sin
[2]Retrieved from http://www1.cbn.com/questions/how-do-we-confess-our-sin

Monday, April 30, 2018

Keeping Sin at Bay

No copyright infringement intended
Charles Finney considered as one of the greatest preachers said, “Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe… If it is forgiven sin, it cost God His only Son… If it is unforgiven sin, it cost the sinner his soul and an eternity in hell.” His graphic description of sin’s cost helps us focus on keeping its power in our lives at bay. In other words, keenly observing a safe distance from its grasps must be done intentionally.

Let’s begin uncovering its origin and some ways of understanding without minimizing its influence. The apostle James described the natural cycle of sinBut each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15, ESV).

What is very clear at the onset is the certainty of temptation for all of us: “But each person is tempted…” Matthew Henry commented, “We never are secure from trialsIn Hebrew, to tempt, and to try, or to prove, are expressed by the same word. Every trial is indeed a temptation.” Jesus experienced various temptations: For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted(Hebrews 2:18). Next, enticement comes when our desires become stirred and lured in the wrong way: “…when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Someone provided an excellent depiction of this concept::

The word for ‘entice’ is the idea of baiting a hook. A good fisherman knows how to bait the hook in just the right way so the fish will be attracted to it and caught. Satan is a specialist at baiting the hook in just the right way so that you’ll be attracted and then hooked.

In the Garden of Eden, we saw this happening when Satan stirred Eve’s curiosity and desires: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6, NIV). Eve, in partaking of the fruit seems harmless enough but forgetting that doing so was disobedience against God’s command: “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin…” We need to remember that our desires, however beneficial, when it opposes God’s desires is a sin or missing the mark. In this state, Matthew Henry commented, “The world draws the heart from God; and the more the love of the world prevails, the more the love of God decays.”

The full effect of a sinful lifestyle results in death: “…sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” The apostle Paul explicitly stated, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a, NIV). Even Methuselah, the oldest man recorded in the Bible who lived up to 969 years of age still died (Genesis 5:27). No matter what we do in preventing death in coming to our life, the book of Hebrews is clear, “…it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27a, KJV).

Allow me to provide some principles to follow in keeping sin at bay. The first thing to remember is “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, NIV). God offered protection by wearing His armor against all attacks of sin especially when personal desires become stirred. Next, take full control of lust and desires invading our lives. Luke Gilkerson[1]shared the following: 

·     This might mean mentally fleeing: bouncing our thoughts away from lustful imaginations.
·      This might mean visually fleeing: bouncing our eyes away from lustful images.
·      This might mean physically fleeing: walking (or running) away from tempting situations.

Finally, it is a fact that while we are on earth, sin is ever present. Therefore, if and when we commit sin, our first reaction in breaking the cycle of sin and its power in our lives according to the Scriptures is to “…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV). The action of he rejoicing father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son exhibited it best after seeing his son came back to him from his life of sin. He received him without any condemnation and declared to everyone: “This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found ” (Luke 15:24, NIV). God is just waiting for us to come back to Him. He is always ready to accept us again with open arms. Will you do it and humble yourself before God?
Let’s talk again!
-->


[1]http://www.covenanteyes.com/2010/05/13/3-biblical-strategies-for-fighting-lust/

Thursday, March 29, 2018

God's Love Expressed through Jesus’ Death

No copyright infringement intended
Keeping our thoughts and hearts on this great event, we need a constant reminder of its eternal value.For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Anne Graham Lotz expressed it beautifully, “John 3:16 is the North Star of the Bible. If you align your life with it, you can find the way home.” In this season of remembering the greatest event in human history more than 2,000 years ago, let’s glean some important truths in experiencing God’s love today.  When God declared His love for us, it was unconditional because “…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  
Here's an important: God saw our need for a Saviour and made it happen by sending Jesus in the flesh. John 3:16 declared,  “

God’s love was sacrificial because Christ became the Lamb of God for our sins. 1 John 1:9-10 states, "In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins” (Amplified Version).

The proof of God’s love became a reality when His only Son came to save us. Titus 3: 4-6 states,
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

God’s love became especially accessible because of people believing in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When people expressed their faith in Jesus, eternal life was guaranteed. John 20:30-31 states,

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Why do we need God’s love through His Son? It is simply to experience eternal life with God in heaven, not hell. Remember that our earthly life is short compared to what eternity offers. Romans 6:23 stated, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Here’s an important fact to remember: If God didn’t send Jesus Christ to die for our sins; our destiny in the afterlife is eternal separation from God. If God didn’t love us so, our destination is eternal anguish in Hell. I’m aware that many shunned this truth. But unfortunately, whether we believe it or not, it is a real place.

Let’s secure our place in God’s eternal home in Heaven by keeping these wonderful truths in mind:

1.     Jesus was crucified that we might receive God’s love for us.
2.     Jesus died that we might live with hope amidst suffering and troubles.
3.     Jesus gave His life that we might know our value on earth and in eternity.

Here’s another insight about John 3:16:

He loves. He gives. We believe. We live.
It really is that simple. God loves this world, more than we’ll ever know.
He gave his one and only Son so that we could live forever with him.
Apart from him we die. With him we live.
Choose life. Choose Jesus! ~Scott Bayles

In His last hours on the Cross of Calvary, the only thought holding Him until the end was His great love for humanity. He completed His task with a view of their redemption from sin’s power, Satan’s rule, and death’s grip. And fueling his sacrifice on the Cross is His abundant love and provision of eternal life to everyone who believes in Him.  Finally, keep this question in mind: “What held Him to the Cross?”

Not the nails, but His wondrous love for me, 

Kept my Lord on the cross of Calvary, 

Oh, what power could hold Him there—

All my sin and shame to bear?

Not the nails, but His wondrous love for me. ~Sunday School Times


Let’s talk again!