Forgiveness and Blessing

God’s people are not exempt from falling into sin.  In fact, it is overtly stated throughout scripture that there is none who does not sin.  However, as God’s people – His dearly beloved  – we can rest assured that when we sincerely repent from our sin; crying out to Him to forgive us and change us and and committing to change and turn from it – He will not only forgive and cleanse us – but He will surely bless us!  What must we do? Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek His face. Turn from our sin.  This promise was spoken to God’s people Israel, but I believe that as God’s people today this truth still applies.  When you sin (and you WILL sin) – submit to God’s authority; cry out to Him for forgiveness; listen for His direction for you; and commit to never go back to doing that thing and I believe that even when we sin grievously and find ourselves in the hand of our enemy – He will turn that thing around!  Our sin will surely bring with it unpleasant consequences but it is His good pleasure to bind up our wounds – even those He inflicts upon us.  Our pride will bring us to destruction – but if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand – He will exalt us in due time.  He knew we would falter – and He has always made a way for us to set things right with Him.  Forgiveness and blessing!  Who wouldn’t serve a God like that?!

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14

Weeping for Lost Souls

hearttearsReading the account of Lazarus death and resurrection in John, I was struck by the grief of our Savior.  The onlookers remarked about his love for Lazarus.  I re-read the account and it occurred to me that because He is God – what He grieved for was probably not what we might think he  grieved for.  Yes – He loved Lazarus; but it seems unusual to me that our Lord who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead would be weeping over the loss of life; so I re-read the passage several more times and then it occurred to me that the humanity of our Christ came face to face with the reality of the wages of sin and what it means for a fallen humanity.  He was fully human – Yes! – but he was without sin!  He loved these people deeply and what was happening here brought our Lord face to face with the effects that sin would have not only on the sinner, but on those whom the sinner loves. I believe that He grieved for their sinfulness. He grieved the effects of their unbelief.  Continue reading

Fall from Grace

 God offers us that we will be dressed in His righteousness alone.  We, however, feel like we need benchmarks and checklists.  We embrace the law (or our own set of rules) so that we can keep score and by doing so we unwittingly separate ourselves from the unmerited favor of the Lord.  And that – my friends – is the definition of a fall from grace.  We have redefined a fall from grace as the commission of a sexual sin by a leader, but the truth is the commission of a sexual sin is just that – SIN! Sin is sin!  My mama always taught me to call a spade a spade.   Continue reading

Seasoned with Grace

colossians4_5_6I live with a purpose — to live and speak in a way that reflects the one thing in my life that truly matters – Jesus Christ.  My belief that God loved me so much that He sent His Son, in spite of my willful rebellion, to die as a perfect sacrifice for me to once again enjoy right relationship with Him.  This belief is what should mark my words at all times.  I don’t always succeed – but it is my goal everyday.  This too is with purpose — that the world will be reconciled to God.

I live among Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics and many more.  I have friends among all of them.  I have been told by my friends that what they appreciate is that I don’t spend my days brow beating them into submission to what I hold to be true.  Rather, I spend my time treating my friends who are outside of the household of faith with the love and grace that has so generously been lavished upon me.  Further, I spend my private time – my alone time – studying the Word of God and the life of my Savior, Jesus Christ, so that when matter of faith come up my words will be His words and not my own – colored in dogma or arrogance.  I don’t degrade or denounce what anyone else believes — but I speak and live in such a way that the people around me know that I am certain that what I believe about Jesus is the absolute truth! Are you getting this?

There’s a lot of hateful behavior and talk going around in our nation right now.  We would rather kill them all and hold them in disdain than do what God in Christ asked us to do;  love them back to the truth.  I don’t care what they believe or how they are living; the truth is that God loves them and desires that they should not perish.  He didn’t place us on this earth to hate people.  He didn’t place us here to exchange the love of Christ for a gun and hateful words! It is our role to be the gospel to the world.

When we open our mouths, our words should drip with the sweet aroma of the Holy Spirit; offering a positive testimony to this world of the love and light of Christ.  When we are with people our actions should be drenched in grace, truth and love  so that people are attracted to what is within us.  Our words and lives should be exciting, attractive, winsome, lovely, grace filled, marked by patience – they should reflect what is inside of us!

Our words and our lives should be making such an indelible imprint on the world around us that there should be no mistake as to who is King of Kings; the Prince of Peace; the Great I Am.  Our presence in the world should make us unforgettable to everyone we come in contact with.  Do they know that they’ve been with a Christ follower when they’ve been with you?

I am so hopeful that I will never forget that my life is not about me being seen, nor is about me being right.  It is not about me having freedom and liberty on this earth. My life is about the ministry of reconciliation.  I’ve gotta live and speak what I say my heart believes!  As the old folk used to say – you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

Don’t Get Caught Up In A Bunch of Spare Rituals!

Grace Changes EverythingIn order to live under His grace – we must believe that He is exactly who He says He is and that we are exactly who He says we are!

We’ve all made these types of statements and one time or another:    “Well, at least I’m not as bad as ???”; “Yeah I did that, but at least I didn’t act like ???”; “I’m a Christian! I go to church every Sunday!”.  We have all, at one time or another, had an established list of must do items that we believed made us more righteous than another; or we have all held ourselves out to be better than someone else to justify or glaze over our own sin.  Some have gotten caught up in rituals that they think make them more righteous — thanking God for food loudly in a restaurant; participating in an annual church outreach event; using all the right words (blessed and highly favored, I’m doing well by his grace, etc.); wearing Christian t-shirts/fish/crosses; etc.  Still others have become legalistic in an effort to prove themselves ‘holier than thou’.  Well, none of that will cause you to live fully under the grace of God.

If we want to live victoriously, we have to take Him at His word.  If we want to experience His favor, we have to believe Him in such a way that our faith can be counted as righteousness.  There is no way – absolutely no way – to please Him with rules and rituals.  Rules and Rituals only give us cause to judge one another.

Without Christ it ain’t spiritual – you’re just caught up in a bunch of spare rituals” – The Cross Movement

If our spiritual lives consist only of rules, regulations, and statutes; then our reward will be self-judgment and the judgment of other fallen people — we will never walk in victory!  However, if we define our spiritual lives by our belief in God; in who He is and in what He says; then we walk under the Grace of God!  Christ has given us the privilege of living as heirs with Him, but we must choose to walk in faith.  Not trying to justify ourselves against another’s failings, but instead accepting the justification that we have not earned – but have been freely given by God the Father through His son Jesus Christ.

I pray that the Father will help us to live for Him and not for ourselves.  I pray that He will help us to reserve judgement and instead show mercy.  I pray that He will help us to appreciate fully what it means to be given justification and to be counted as righteous through Christ. I pray that He will liberate us from the desire to check off a list of good deeds and ‘righteous’ acts.  I pray that we will allow Him to teach us what it means to be free indeed.

However, the law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them” (Galatians 3:12)