Wednesday, October 13, 2021
All of us - you, me, we've all been, at one time in our lives, dead in our sins, dead in our transgressions. Not physically dead, but spiritually dead.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Ephesians 2:4-5, 10
All of us - you, me, we've all been, at one time in our lives, dead in our sins, dead in our transgressions. Not physically dead, but spiritually dead. We weren't following God at one time in our lives, but we were following the ways of the world, we were following the prince of this world, who is known as Satan. We were being disobedient to God. We were satisfying the cravings of our sinful nature in the things that we do, the things that we say, even the things that we think. Maybe I'm describing you today. Maybe you are thinking, "Are you nuts? I'm not following Satan. I'm not a Satanist." But I can tell you that there are only two teams. If you are not following Jesus, guess who you are following. This is what it means to be dead in our transgressions and dead in our sins.
But here's the good news, in fact, it's great news! It's that God's love for us has made us alive with Christ. God's love for us has made us alive with Christ! It's worth saying twice. That means that we have been saved from eternal separation from God when we die, and we are given eternal life with God in heaven. So, while it's important to know about the love of God, to know it in your mind, let me ask you a question. Have you ever believed it? Have you ever believed that Jesus is the Son of God? Have you ever believed that he paid for your sins on the cross and rose again to give you eternal life in Heaven with him? If you believe that and you receive it in your heart today, then you are a Christian, and you become alive with Christ. You cross over from being dead in transgression to being alive with Christ. That's how you become adopted into God's family. So, when you are aligned with Christ, you begin to change from the inside out. You start seeing things differently, you start seeing people differently, you start treating them differently. You see God differently in your life, and you give him a higher priority in your life. He should have the top priority in your life when you begin to follow Him. You begin living for him. Ephesians 2:10, just a couple of verses down, says this, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." I love this passage because the word workmanship, which is from the original Greek word poema. We get the word poem from that. I love to think about that, that we are God's poem, we are His workmanship, we are his masterpiece in progress. God is writing the story of your life, and and you were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We don't do good works to earn our salvation. Good works are the result of our salvation. So, God loves you so much that he gave you a purpose. Think about that for a moment. He loves you so much, he gave you a purpose for your life with specific works for you to accomplish. When you live your life fulfilling that purpose, you are alive with Christ.
Let's pray. Father, I want to thank you that you sent your son Jesus for us and that we have an opportunity to to invite him in our lives, to believe He is who He said He is, and to receive the free gift of salvation that he offers. If anyone is reading this right now and they've never crossed that line of faith, they've never made Jesus Christ their Lord and their Savior, just say this prayer aloud. Say, "Jesus, I invite you in. I recognize that I need you in my life, I recognize that I'm a sinner and you are a perfect holy God. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins. You paid the price for me. I should have been on that cross, but you paid the price for me. I recognize that and I receive the free gift of salvation. Help me to turn from my sins, change my mind about my sin and the way I used to live, and helped me begin living for you, alive with Christ. Thank you for adopting me into your family. In Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, October 4, 2021
One of the hardest things, being Christian, is sometimes looking back at your life and just being distressed that some of the things you did before you were a Christian. Believe it or not, the Apostle Paul had that same distressed feeling.
Monday, October 4, 2021
1 Corinthians 15:3-10
When the Apostle Paul looked back over his life, he saw that at a time in his life he persecuted the church of God. Because of that, he didn't think he even deserve to be called an apostle. He also says, "I worked harder than all of them," and I wonder if there was some part of the Apostle Paul that was trying to work out that sin of persecuting the church. But it comes to the conclusion, "I worked harder than all of them - yet not I." As if he is saying, "Not the hard work that I did." Hard work was important, and he worked hard for the kingdom. He tells us at the end of 1 Corinthians 15 that we should give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. But this kind of hard work can't make up for the persecution, or for any sin in our past. He finally gets to the point where he says, "but by the grace of God, I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect." Even though Paul worked harder than all of them, it wasn't him, but the grace of God that was within him. The persecution in his past bothered him terribly, and yet he found his freedom in the fact that the grace of God had worked so powerfully in his life. The same is true for you and for me. We can't go back and make up for things that we did in our life. We can't make up for those things, but what we can do is see that the grace of God has set us free to be who he wants us to be. We can live productive lives presently, because of God's grace, no matter what we've done in our past. I hope for you that that will give you the lift for life that you need today.
Friday, July 16, 2021
When you were without Christ Jesus, you were separated from God, dead to him because of your sins. But what God did for those of you who have come to see that Christ is the way back to God, is God made you alive with Christ.
Friday, July 16, 2021
Welcome back for another Life Lifter! Our scripture that will give us a lift today is from Colossians 2:13-15. Here's how it reads, "God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
The picture here is that you were dead in your sins. When you were without Christ Jesus, you were separated from God, dead to him because of your sins. But what God did for those of you who have come to see that Christ is the way back to God, is God made you alive with Christ. You've gone from death to life in Christ. God forgave you all your sins. He forgave the ones that you just cringe at when you think about them, those things that you wish you could do over, the things where you go, "Oh, if only I could have done it over, I would have, or I could have, or I should have..." He has forgiven you all your sins. He canceled the charge of legal indebtedness. In other words, when you sin the wages of that sin was death, but God canceled that bill for you. That bill that stood against you, that bill that condemned you, that legal document that said because of your sin you deserve death, he canceled that. He took it away. When Christ died on the cross that document of legal indebtedness was cancelled, it was nailed to the cross with Christ.
Not only that, but he has disarmed Satan and all his evil hordes. They can no longer accuse you. In fact, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. This is what God has done for you in Christ Jesus. You've been made alive with him, your sins have been forgiven, your sins have been canceled, which means obliterated or destroyed. The charges against you have been taken away, he has disarmed all of those who would accuse, making a public spectacle of them. This means that in Christ Jesus you are free from all of those sins and from everything that could take you out of the loving embrace of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who loves you. Friends, that should give you a lift for the day, and I hope and pray that it does.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
In this life, because of our sin and our evil behavior, we have actually become enemies of God. And what is so encouraging and lifting about this passage is all of the verbs that describe what it is that God has done for us in Christ Jesus.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Welcome back for another Life Lifter. I hope that this section of scripture from Colossians 1:21-23 will be a lift for your day. It reads like this, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation - if you continue in your faith, established, and firm..."
What's clear about this is that we start estranged from God. In this life, because of our sin and our evil behavior, we have actually become enemies of his. And what is so encouraging and lifting about this passage is all of the verbs that describe what it is that God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Now in Christ, and because of his physical body and his death for us on the cross, we have been reconciled to God, the enmity is no longer there. We have been reconciled to him. In Christ and because of his physical body, through death, we have been presented holy in the sight of God. We were presented holy because he has made us holy in His sight. We are pure, we are clean, we are the holiness of God in Christ Jesus. In Christ, and because of his death, we are without blemish. There's no stain of sin on us. We are free from accusation. The evil one and all his hordes cannot accuse us, and if we love Christ we don't get to accuse ourselves either.
All of these things are true, not because we act properly all the time, not because we don't commit sins. These things are true because this is what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We are reconciled to God, we are holy in His sight, we are without blemish. We are free from accusation because we are in Christ Jesus. I don't know about you, but I know this: when I think of that and I believe the truth that all of these things are true of me because I'm in Christ, that gives me the lift that I need to go into this day. I am thankful to be God's child, thankful for Jesus Christ, and thankful for what he's done for me.
Monday, July 12, 2021
Paul painted the blackest picture he could of who they were and what they were like. But then he tells them this...
Monday, July 12, 2021
1 Corinthians 6:11
Our Life Lifter today comes from 1 Corinthians 6:11. The Apostle Paul had told the people there in Corinth that some of them were sexually immoral, some of them were thieves, they were greedy. Some of them were slanderers, swindlers, and drunkards. He painted the blackest picture he could of who they were and what they were like. But then he tells them this, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."
What he was telling them was that even though they were dirty with all of this sin, they had been washed by God. I remember a commercial some years ago for a famous detergent. The wife in the picture was constantly trying to clean her husband's shirt. His neckline was constantly dirty, and she was trying to wash it out, scrub it out, clean it out. And I remember a comedian on television saying to the wife, "Why are you scrubbing that shirt? Tell that filthy man to clean his neck!" Well, when God cleans something, or when you are cleaned and washed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, how many of you know that that washing is clean, and pure, and without spot? Some of you who used to be these evil people have been washed clean by Christ Jesus. All of us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus for our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins have been washed clean by Christ, and through the spirit of our God. We have been sanctified, which means we've been made holy. That's a difficult one to believe because typically we don't think of ourselves as being holy. But what has happened is when we came to Christ Jesus, that old life, and all of those things that made us up and defined who we were, those things are gone. We have now been made holy in Christ Jesus. And we have been justified. We have been declared not guilty, not simply because God declared us not guilty, but because he made us not guilty in Christ Jesus.
That is really good news. What the language of this particular text of Scripture says is that in Jesus Christ, and by his Holy Spirit we have been made all of these things right now, we have been washed, we have been sanctified, we have been justified in Christ Jesus. That means no matter what has happened to you, no matter how you have sinned in the past, even yesterday, or today, or even in the future, you've been washed, you've been sanctified and made holy. You've been justified because of your faith in Christ Jesus, and by his Holy Spirit. No matter how you think you failed, because you're in Christ, all of these good things are true of you. Therefore, when you look at your life now, and throughout this day, you can go throughout it rejoicing in Christ Jesus because of what he's done for you. And my hope for you today is that because you go rejoicing, because you realize what Christ has done for you, it will be that lift for your day.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Worshiping God is a lifestyle. Worshiping God is is how we conduct ourselves and what we're allowing God to do in our own lives.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Psalm 51:10, 12, 15-17
Today, I want to look at a psalm that I think really is a great starting point for how we are to worship God. It's written by David, it's Psalm 51. And I'm going to read some select verses from Psalm 51. Starting in verse 10, he says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." And then verse 12, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit." And then jumping ahead to verses 15-17, "Oh, Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise. For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise, I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, you will not despise."
David wrote this at a very difficult time in his life, when he was filled with grief. He was completely humbled and ashamed because he had just committed adultery, and he comes back to God, and he's begging through this prayer for forgiveness. He's doing a couple different things here. First, he says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a steadfast spirit within me." He's like, God, I know, I screwed up. I know, I screwed up, God cleanse my heart, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Then, he says, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, sustain me with a willing spirit." He is longing for what God's going to do in his life, how God is going to continue to pull him through. Then, he says, "Lord opened my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise. For you do not delight and sacrifice, otherwise, I would give it. You're not pleased in a burnt offering."
Let me pray for you. Father, thank you so much for the gift of your word, and just how clear it is that we don't need to be perfect. Lord, we just ask that you give us that clean spirit, the willing spirit, that we would recognize we are broken. We surrender to you, and pray that we would be obedient. Whoever's reading right now, whatever they're struggling with right now Lord, I pray that they would just have the courage to say, "God we know that we are broken and we give it to you." In Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
People will say stuff like, "You know what? I just don't feel that close to the Lord these days. I feel like he's distant. I don't know why, but I just don't feel close to the Lord." And so, I think I do know why. I know exactly why.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Monday, March 22, 2021
Sometimes when I have a really crazy day at work, or a challenging day, or people problems, etc., I tell myself this, "if it wasn't for sin, I wouldn't have a job."
Monday, March 22, 2021
Sometimes when I have a really crazy day at work, or a challenging day, or people problems, etc., I tell myself this, "if it wasn't for sin, I wouldn't have a job." I don't like thinking that, but sometimes the stuff I have to deal with in my own life and in working with other people just reminds me that sin is a reality in life. I would love to just preach a sermon and say, "if you sin, stop. Amen." That would be great! But here's the problem: it's hard to tell a person who has a sin nature and sometimes chooses to sin, even when they're Christians, to stop sinning. So what I want to do is tell you that sin is bad, and you shouldn't sin. But today, I want to focus a little differently. I want to focus on this idea that if you sin, have a short account with it. I don't encourage sin, but unfortunately, being who we are, it's inevitable. So, have a short account with sin, and I will unpack how to do that.
In James 1:13-15, James says, 'When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." When James says that God does not tempt anyone, that means you can't say, "God made me do it," or, "God put me in a position where I had to sin." That's not what you can say. You can say the devil made you do it you, but you're still pawning off and making excuses. That's what Adam and Eve basically said. But then James goes on to say that each one is tempted by his own evil desire. And he's speaking to Christians, which means Christians still have evil desires. He says, "he is dragged away and enticed," so he's talking about sin dragging us away. Unfortunately, we've all been caught and dragged away by sin. But watch this. Here he talks about the danger of having a longer account with sin. If you engage a sin, and you continue in the sin, here's the process. He says that after the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. That means desire is a sin too. If you desire something wrong, that desire is a sin as much as sin itself. Because he says when desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin. The moment desire conceives that's a sin and sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. What does this say? The longer you hang on to sin, the more destructive it is in your life. Let me be clear, I highly encourage you not to sin. Let me also be clear, we all sin.
So here's the rub. When you sin, cut it off quickly. Have a short account with sin. If you don't, sin will give birth to death. You might say, "will I die?" Listen, I don't know. I'll let God be the judge that. I know in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 Paul said "hand that man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh that his spirit might be saved in a day of the Lord." In other words, what's he saying there? He's saying, take this guy out physically. So it could happen. But I'm saying it could lead to other kinds of death, perhaps death of a relationship, of peace, of satisfaction, of contentment. Do you want that? Remember that when you sin, that it has long-term implications. So have a short account with sin, apologize where needed, stop looking at what you're looking at, if it's sinful, and stop doing what you're doing. Whatever it is, stop it, before it leads to further damage, destruction, and death.
Father, we all sin, forgive us of that. And also give us the power to have a short account with sin. To repent of it, to turn from it, to stop it, so that it doesn't lead to further damage in our life. Help us have the power to do this, and we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen. Shorter accounts with sin. That's the goal of life. Thanks and have a great day.