Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Joy Comes in the Morning!

The word “joy” defined by Strong’s Concordance means “a shout of rejoicing, loud cheering in triumph, singing.” It’s the kind of joyful shout at the time of a great victory.

Psalm 30:5 - “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” I am writing this blog on “Good Friday,” as we remember that dark hour in Jesus’ life when as an innocent lamb, He was nailed to the cross between two thieves and bore the weight of all the sins of mankind, past, present, and future “For He made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

A divine exchange took place at His cross. It was this: “All of the evil consequences we deserved because of our sin was placed upon Jesus, so that all of the good that was due upon Jesus might be made available to us!”  We owed a debt that we could never pay, but Jesus paid for our debt which He did not owe. The penalty for our sin was paid once for all with His own blood. Hebrews 10:10 - “By the will of God we have been “set apart” from our sin through the offering of Jesus Christ once for all.”

So “Good Friday” is a somber day as we think of the pain and sorrow and tears that was suffered and shed on our behalf. They were long hours of injustice and deep humiliation and His cup was a horridly bitter cup of suffering.  When, finally, the torture was ended and Jesus had spoken the words “It is finished,” He bowed His head and “gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30) His tears of sorrow and pain ended.

BUT SUNDAY’S A COMIN’!  Bill Gaither wrote the song “Then came the morning, night turned into day; the stone was rolled away, hope rose with the dawn! Then came the morning, shadows vanished before the sun; death had lost and life had won, for morning had come!”  When Jesus Christ rose from the dead and came out of the grave, Jesus met the two Mary’s who were on their way to the tomb and told them to “Rejoice!” The sorrow was over. Joy had come in the morning!

Today is a day of rejoicing and loud cheering in triumph because our great God and Savior is alive! His resurrection reveals that He has authority over all powers on the earth, including death itself. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow with hope in our hearts! Celebrate His life today!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Forgiven Much!

The account of the awesome forgiveness that Jesus offered to the sinful woman recorded in chapter 7 of Luke's Gospel is very worth taking notice of. The forgiveness granted was a great forgiveness because the woman was well known in her city for her reputation as a prostitute and low moral behavior. She probably was despised by many wives and women in her city. Her lifestyle was probably one of abuse and shame.

When Jesus allowed this woman to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair, kiss His feet and anoint them with fragrant oil, the Pharisee who owned the house could not help but wince with disgust. To him it was a gross impropriety that Jesus permitted the woman to act out in this way. The Pharisee despised the woman to be in his house and wondered how Jesus could be a prophet and not know what kind of woman she was.  But Jesus not only knew the thoughts in the mind of the self-righteous Pharisee, He also knew what was in the heart of the sinful woman. Jesus looked beyond the faults of the woman and saw her need. The Pharisee was not able to see her need and it compelled him to judge her for her faults.

Jesus took note that the woman’s sins were many, but because she had offered herself completely to Him as an act of faith, He forgave her from all of her sins.  The Pharisee’s self-righteousness kept him from seeing his need for Jesus to save him from a judgmental and condemning life.

The scripture states that “there is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10) “We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (verse 23) To the woman in Luke 7, Jesus stated that it was her faith that had saved her. Romans 3 tells us that we receive the “righteousness of God” through the “redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (verse 24) “It is only by His blood, through faith that He demonstrates His righteousness and forbearance to pass over the sins that we had previously committed.” (Verse 25)  At the foot of the cross the ground is level. There is room for everyone to be saved. There is no life that has been too deep in sin that God will not or cannot forgive. 

God spoke through Isaiah and said, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are real like crimson, I will make them white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Think about your own redemption today and how much of God’s mercy and love has been extended toward you. The Passover of the blood has been applied over the doorposts of your heart. Because He has forgiven so much, we are living life to love Him and to please Him in everything!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Truth And Love!

We all know that love covers a broad spectrum and that it is the very center of God Himself. The Apostle Paul gives as yet another angle of love here in Ephesians 4:25-32. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

Here Paul describes the proper process of growth in Christ. In contrast to being misled by false teachers we are to speak the truth in love. Speaking truth describes that which is true and so is in accordance with what actually happened. It describes the reality lying at the basis of an appearance. Meaning, to be honest, be true, in doctrine and profession, act genuinely.  This verb is difficult to translate into English but is literally “TRUTHING IN LOVE” which has the idea of maintaining truth in love in both speech and life (WALKING IN A TRUTHFUL WAY). So we are not just speaking the truth but doing it and this is the recipe by which we grow in Christ. Speaking the truth pictures the right doctrine. In love, pictures the right spirit or attitude. We ought to have a great love of the truth and we also ought to do the truth, but we must do the truth in love. Truth without love is brutality, but love without truth is hypocrisy.

I love the little story of Howard Moody Morgan. G. Campbell Morgan had a number of children. Four or five of them grew up and went into the ministry. Mr. Morgan was an outstanding expositor. They all were interested in the Bible. They were having a discussion around the table one time about what was the best Bible translation. And this was many years ago, and I don’t know the translation they were talking about, but I do know that Mr. Morgan used the American Standard Version. And so he undoubtedly, spoke for that. And the English Revised Version was also used. Somebody probably spoke for that and several other translations. And finally, Howard Moody Morgan, who also became a minister and was a minister at this time, spoke up and said “Well the translation I like best is mother’s translation!” And what he meant by that was, simply, his mother’s Christian life! And the way in which she translated the truth into Christian living. Well, that’s what I think Paul means when he says “speaking the truth in love to every man!” What a great example for us to live out, so let’s walk in it and see the difference that it will make in our lives and those around us.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ambassadors of His Love!

It is so amazing as we walk with the Lord and are led by His Spirit, that through His Holy Spirit we have this constant awareness of His awesome power and all conclusive mastership over all of creation; that even though we share Christ with others, our daily existence manifests the very presence of God! Whether we realize it or not, our Christ-like living permeates all around us and most definitely has an impact on all who we come into contact with or those whom observe from a distance.

When our heart is right with God, He orchestrates every thing around us, the circumstances, situations and events because the natural is subordinate to the spiritual. When we love God and have a pure and surrendered heart to Him He governs our lives. I know some times we can hardly believe it; we are astonished, amazed and even astounded! But that is how God works.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) Now listen to this verse in the NLT version: “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” 

I love that! Either way, Christ’s love controls us! I have to say that again: either way, Christ’s love controls us! His amazing love! What’s love got to do with it? EVERYTHING! Now that we have received this new life we no longer live for ourselves, we live for Christ. In other words, He lives through us and it is evident to all! There is no longer a living to ourselves, and why would we? We are new in Him, and He in us.

What a life to live! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Wow, ambassadors of His love! That’s what we are, so let’s live out today and every day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Loving Yourself!

Do you know that you have a relationship with yourself and that your relationship with yourself is much more active than with anybody else? YES you never get away from yourself. You can never go anywhere in your whole life where you’re not going to be there! It sounds funny, but we really need to understand that, everywhere you go, there you are! Not for one second of one day of your whole life can you ever get away from you. So if you don’t like yourself you are in for one miserably wretched life!

How many of you know how miserable it is to spend just one hour or two with someone that you really just don’t like? Do you ever feel like you are just NOT quite what you ought to be? Ever feel that pressure? Then you start comparing yourself with other people that you think are ok. Then we try to be like them. If the truth be known, many of them are looking at you wishing they were like you and they are trying to be like you are! All of us have strengths and all have weaknesses. The biggest mistake you can make is to concentrate on your weaknesses! Guess what? We can’t be all things to everybody; we can’t be what we are not gifted to be; we need to concentrate on what God has gifted us in and allow Him to develop us rather than trying to work real hard developing something God never wanted you to do anyway.

Not everybody is created the same. We have different abilities, capacities, aptitudes, and gifting's. Not every pastor’s wife leads the ladies group and plays the piano. We tend to put people in boxes and in so doing, lock them up. God wants you to be free of the box! You need to say, “You know...that’s not me! And I am not going to try to be something that I’m not anymore; I am going to find out what God has for me and I am going to do it with all of my heart!”

Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)  Guess what? You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself. If you don’t have a good relationship with YOU, you are not going to have a good relationship with other people in your life. The greatest gift that you can give to the world is a HEALTHY YOU! Physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and if somebody doesn’t like themselves, it is equivalent to being emotionally ill. It’s not the way that God wants you to function in this life! You are not supposed to have negative feelings about yourself. You can love yourself. God has created you to love who He has created; He has created you in His own image. When you begin to hate yourself remember that God’s Spirit is ready and willing to work within you to make you all God meant you to be! God thinks of you constantly. We should have as much respect and love for ourselves as our Maker has for us! “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works!” Psalm 139.14