Sunday, July 30, 2017

God Accepts You to Come as You Are, but You Don't Accept Him as He is

For His part, God will accept you if you come just as you are.  It is you who refuses to accept Him as He is. Since He is the Creator and you the creature, it's you who need to be changed; He never changes.

He is holy!  But you are unwilling to be transformed into someone who is holy like Him.  You don't want to part ways with your sinful, poisonous, hedonistic way of life.

All glory belongs to Him! But you are unwilling to accept Him as the awesome, almighty, transcendent, unchanging God who deserves every bit of credit, merit, honor, and praise.  You want some credit for your efforts, which you are deluded into thinking can somehow atone for your transgressions against the Creator of the universe.

He is righteous! But you resent the discomfort of conscience you would feel in the presence of His purity and perfection. You prefer to stay in your own sin rather than be covered in Christ's righteousness.

"At [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore," but you are too addicted to your inferior, worldly stimulants and diversions to give them up for the superior pleasure and unspeakable joy of knowing Jesus Christ!

He is King! But you are unwilling to submit to His authority. You fancy yourself as self-willed, unaware that you're actually a pitiful slave to God's cruel enemy.

He is love! But you cannot give up your grudges and bitterness toward people who have violated you or your judgment of those to whom you feel superior, whether morally, mentally, or physically.

How long will you resist Him?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Something is Wrong. What are you going to do about it?

If you're like most people, you know God is there, but you don't really know Him.  Something isn't right. 

1.  You didn't appear out of thin air; someone made you.  On some level, you tend to believe that God is your Creator.

2. You don't really know your Creator.  You know your friends; you can describe their likes and dislikes, peculiar aspects of their personalities, and their mannerisms, but with God everything you claim to know about him is vague and distant.  You know God even less than you "know" your favorite celebrity.  You comfort yourself that He cares about you personally, but the curious thing is that instead of getting to know Him, you demonstrate little desire to find out what He is really like, His history with humanity, or what He has expressed about Himself.   

3. You don't bother to find out what He wants you to do.  You selectively remember a few religious nuggets of wisdom you've heard here and there, but you rarely make an effort to investigate whether or not He has explicitly revealed His expectations for behavior.  You reassure yourself that all He wants is for you to be nice to others (the golden rule and all that,) but you can't be bothered to crack open the main book on the topic or ask some critical questions of some of the people who claim to know.  Your apathy is evident in your failure to take advantage of available resources. 

4. You call yourself, and everyone else, His "children," indicating your knowledge on some level that He created us to be a reflection of Himself.  And yet instead of comparing yourself to Him (your lifestyle, the words you speak, and your actions) you assess how "good" you are by comparing yourself to other people. You let yourself off the hook by thinking of others you consider much worse than yourself.  You measure yourself by the wrong standard, comparing people to other people instead of comparing people to God.

Clearly, there is a major problem between you and God.  Things are not okay, and it's a bad idea to let that go on indefinitely.  So, what are you going to do about it?   

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ephesians 1: Adoption, blessings, and too many other good things for one title.

When I think of my son, David, I want to bless him with every good thing I can possibly bestow upon him. Whatever I can give him like wisdom, practical skills, money, a good reputation, my love as a father, and the like I want to go all out with generosity, even with my own life.  I wouldn't hold back anything.  So when I read Ephesians chapter one today, when it says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ..." it seems overwhelming to think that the Almighty God calls Himself my Father and then stands and speaks eternal words of blessing which actually carry His power and execute His goodwill - toward me.  It says "every spiritual blessing," just like a Father determined to lead His children into every good thing.  His heart is so gripped with imparting blessing to us that when it came down to the choice between satisfying His just and righteous wrath by condemning us or paying the debt Himself, He gave His own Son, Jesus, to suffer and die on the cross, shedding His own blood to redeem us.  And this plan was made before the foundation of the world. It had to have been, since that is when He chose us, "having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself..."  I am unravelled, torn apart, unable to resist my God's strong consolation, sure hope anchored forever by His Word and His blood, and unrelenting goodwill toward me.

Monday, May 09, 2011

A party

The Kimyal people of Indonesia receive the New Testament in their own language!  Treasure God's Word!

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Escape from Death Row

Has anyone ever explained the Gospel to you?
Has anyone ever told you the real deal truth?
That the devil is your master; he's deceptive and cruel
and he's abusing you
Has anyone ever explained the Gospel to you?

Has anyone ever told you why you need to be free?
That you're rotting in a prison cell that you're keeping neat and clean
You see he blinded you when he caught you, now you cannot see
the truth is out of your reach
And he's got you in his deep, dark lies, like he used to have me

There is one way out
As the clock winds down
You've got to use your mouth
Cry to Jesus now
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, now you know
Is your instructions to escape from death row

Has anyone ever told you why you've got to obey (Jesus?)
It's cause the enemy gives no sympathy to a wandering stray
There is no neutral ground, you're either with or against
you can't walk the fence
Love the truth or love the lie, you've got to choose today

Has anyone ever explained the Gospel to you?
It was love that brought my Savior down to walk in my shoes
To liberate the captives, set the oppressed free
to give joy for mourning
Now! Flee from the wrath to come; there is no time to lose

There is one way out
As the clock winds down
You've got to use your mouth
Cry to Jesus now
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, now you know
Is your instructions to escape from death row

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Reaping What We Sow: Rewards, Consequences, and Proportionality

The Bible says you'll reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7.)  You should realize, however, that the return on investment will not necessarily be proportionate, in both positive and negative cases.  In some cases the disproportionality will be staggering.

In the parable about the vineyard workers recruited at different points during the day, we see that the master paid them each the same, even though some had worked much longer than others (Matthew 20.) The reason for this was that he was pouring out unmerited kindness on all of them, according to his good will.  In the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13,) we see that in the kingdom of God, the tiniest of investments (a sincere "yes" toward Jesus in your heart) will reap the largest of rewards (eternal life.)

On the other side of the coin, God is exceedingly merciful with negative consequences in this age.  Consider a scenario where one of your children causes thousands of dollars in damage to someone else's home through an act of willful negligence.  You as the parent have to make restitution for their act, and the strictly fair thing to do would be to force your child to work off every single dollar.  The child would have to drop out of school.  Instead, you impose your own discipline on them, designed for their good.  You allow them to suffer part of the consequences by working an afternoon job for 3 months, and you take away some privileges.  You still allow them to reap what they have sown, but you mitigate the consequence so as not to overwhelm them.  Once again, it's not proportional.  God is a good Father and often lets us suffer a portion of the consequences of our action such as sorrow, damaged relationships, lost money, etc., for the sake of loving discipline.  He carefully handles each case with love.

It's important to realize that God is reserving the full, amazing, and fearful release of consequences and rewards until the day of judgment.  He is so patient with people who are refusing to obey Him.  He is giving them chance after chance after chance to turn away from their sins and follow Jesus.  He allows them to experience just enough consequences and pain to wake them up to turn from their disobedience before it's too late.  Sadly, there are some people for whom no warnings are sufficient to snap them back to the reality of the rotten fruits which grow from the seeds of sin they have sown.  When Jesus returns at the end of the age, He will release the fullness of His wrath on those who do not know Him (Romans 2, Matthew 25, and Revelation 15-20.)  If you don't know Him, NOW is the time to heed his gentle warnings.  Pain in your life is His reminder that things are not right in the world or in your life, and everything won't be made right until He comes back.

The Gospel is not about God going back on His Word about reaping and sowing.  He will never go back on His Word.  It's about His lavish generosity in paying out extravagant dividends of life, righteousness, forgiveness, peace, joy, love and more in return for the tiniest investments of faith and obedience.  Just imagine the multiplied rewards He will give you as you invest every moment, every relationship, and every resource you have into His kingdom by obeying His Word (read Matthew 19:29 and Luke 6:38.)  Don't miss out on this unique, eternal investment opportunity.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed.