01
Jul
15

Truth Is Truth

The truth is hard to swallow sometimes.  The truth divides people.  The truth divides families and can even divide churches.  The truth makes enemies of friends.  The truth makes enemies of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul was cared for by the Galatians during his ministry with them.  Even when he was a burden to them.  He said, “you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Jesus Christ himself” (Galatians 1:14, NIV).  So why did they turn on him?  He told them the truth.

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?​ – Galatians 1:16 (NIV)​

They were abandoning the true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ and Paul would have none of it!  They were reverting to their former and erroneous ways of believing.  At one time they loved Paul and would have done anything for him (see verse 15).  But when Paul penned this letter, he is heartbroken over the fact that they saw him as an enemy.
The truth divides people.  When you tell someone the truth, they have a choice.  They can accept what they’ve heard or they can reject it.  The truth is exclusive like that.  There can only be one truth.  Everything else is a lie or twisting of the truth.
When you tell someone about the Truth – Jesus – you risk becoming their enemy.  Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  That’s pretty exclusive, right?  That is either true or it is not.  There’s no wiggle room.  You can’t ignore such a statement of exclusivity.  Either it is true or it is a fabrication.  He did not say that He is “a” way or “a” truth or “a” life.  He used the definite article “the.”  There is only ONE way to the Father and that is through Jesus.
So when you tell someone the truth, know that there is a risk involved.  They will either accept it or reject it.  If they reject it, they will most likely reject you as well.  However they respond to the truth (and subsequently to you), it doesn’t change the fact that truth is truth.
Galatians 4:12-16 (NIV)
I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
30
Jun
15

The Joy of the Wedding

Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
`Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ — Revelation 19:7, 9b (NIV)
Weddings are such joyous occasions.  I have presided over several weddings during my 13+ years of ministry and every single one of them has been an occasion of love and joy.  Families and friends come together to celebrate the love of a couple and the joining of their two families.  I love performing weddings because of the joy that comes with the ceremony.
There is a wedding day coming when Jesus Christ will be united with His church.  The Bible tells us that we will rejoice at the wedding of the Lamb and His bride.  We who have been invited to the wedding and the eternal feast that follows are truly blessed indeed.  We will see our Savior face-to-face and we will have joy beyond compare.  Gone will be all temptation, evil and pain.  Gone will be suffering, disease and trials of every kind.  There will be nothing but pure, eternal joy!
How can the promise of the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb and the church give you joy today?  How will the hope of heaven help you persevere through today’s trials?
29
Jun
15

The Joy of Freedom

There seems to be some kind of siren’s call for God’s people to return to a former way of life.  If you were not raised in the church, perhaps your call is to return to a life of sinfulness.  If you were raised in a church where an emphasis was placed on your ability to follow rules, maybe you are driven to return to rule-following instead of embracing grace.  If you were raised in the church and rebelled against God for a time, but returned to Him, you may hear the call of the prodigal.  I believe it is a call to the familiar and to be comfortable.
Following Jesus is not easy.  He calls us to a narrow road and a narrow gate.  It is a call to leave former ways behind and to embrace the new creation He’s made you to be.  The temptation is to abandon the freedom of grace for a former way of life that leads to slavery.  That slavery might be the familiar rules of your past that are comfortable and safe.  The slavery might be the prison of sinfulness.  It feels good (for a time), so you leave the home of forgiveness and mercy for a far off land of slavery to sin.  That slavery might be the old habits and addictions that you gave up so long ago to follow Jesus.  The call of sin and temptation is just too great and you end up leaving the eternal joy of following Jesus for the temporary fix of sin.
We have to resist the call of the siren of sin and instead run to Jesus for grace.  We know that sin enslaves us to guilt, shame and fear.  Grace frees us up to experience the spiritual blessings of knowing God.  Whatever has enslaved you, know that the shackles have been loosed.  The chains are off.  The jail door is open.  You can leave anytime you choose.  You’ve been set free and all you have to do is take a step back to Jesus Christ and you will find the joy of freedom once again.
Galatians 4:8-11 (NIV)
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
29
Jun
15

Flags

The latest message from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.

26
Jun
15

What Is Best

This is what the LORD says–
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go. — Isaiah 48:17 (NIV)
How many times do we doubt God?  We may not doubt His existence or His love, but we doubt that He knows what is best for us.  We can accept the fact that He loves us, but somehow that doesn’t translate to our understanding that He knows what is best or will do what is best for us.  We think that we have to help God out.  We believe that we know what is best for our lives.  We set out on our own and try to control our own destiny.  In reality, we should be learning to trust God again and again and again.
The Hebrew word translated as “best” can also mean “profit” or “benefit”.  In other words, God is working for our benefit.  His commands are for our profit.  His teachings can lead us to the very best of outcomes in our lives.  As the old hymn says, we must “trust and obey.”  I believe that God is constantly calling to us from heaven, “Trust Me.  Trust Me.  Trust Me.”  It is hard to do this because we have short-term memories.  When we are going through the whirlwinds of pain, frustration, worry and fear, we forget that God has always worked it out in the past.  He has delivered us and brought us through.  The good news is that He’ll do it again.  Trust Him.  He knows what is best.  And even better, He’ll do what is best.
When do you doubt God’s ability or desire to do what is best for your life?
25
Jun
15

You Are Royalty

Christian men, you are princes in God’s Kingdom.
Christian women, you are princesses in God’s Kingdom.
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, at the right time, according to Paul, to make us children of the King.  Jesus was sent to save us and redeem us.  We have been bought with His blood.  We have been made His children.  We are brothers and sisters and co-heirs with Christ.
Do not let anyone look down on you.  Do not let anyone treat you as anything less than the prince or princess God has called you to be.  Do not live as anything lower than the prince or the princess you are.  You are a child of God.  You have been adopted into His family.  Do not bring shame to the family name.  Do not act as anything other than the prince or princess you are.
Think of how a prince acts.  Think of how a princess acts.  Do they bring shame to the kingdom?  Neither should we bring shame to the Kingdom of God.  Do they bring shame to their family name?  Neither should we bring shame to the name above all names.
As a child of the King, you are either a prince or a princess.
Not because of anything you have done, but because of what Christ did for you on the cross.
You are royalty.
Act like it.
Galatians 4:1-7 (NIV)
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
24
Jun
15

“I Have Sinned…”

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — (Psalm 51:10-12)

After committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah, David was caught in his sin.  Accused of the crime by the prophet Nathan, David confessed simply, “I have sinned against the LORD.”  He did not try to cover it up or pass the buck.  He admitted his sin and sometime later he penned Psalm 51.

David knew that sin has consequences.  His heart had been damaged and he needed God to give him a new one.  His spirit was weak and he needed it to be renewed with strength.  His fellowship with God had been broken and he needed to sense the intimacy he had had with God previously.  He longed for the Holy Spirit’s comforting presence.  His joy was gone, replaced by guilt over his sin.  Finally, he asks for a spirit that is surrendered to the will of God.

How does the knowledge of your sin affect you?  Do you carry around a burden of guilt when you have sinned against the Lord?  Does your spirit seem crushed and broken?  Is your fellowship with Jesus disturbed?  Do you lose the joy of life and salvation?  Does Psalm 51 resonate with you?  Take heart, my friends!  Jesus died to forgive our sins and joy, fellowship and refreshment are only a step away.  Confess your sin to the Lord, knowing that He is faithful and has forgiven you for every sinful thought, word and deed.  May we never take His grace for granted and may we always be willing to repent.




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