"You Look Marvelous"


"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"

Philippians 1:6

It was Soren Kierkegaad who said, "Now, with God's help, I shall become myself." Easier said than done in this world for the simple reason that there is the pressure both internal and external, seen and unseen that is seeking to press each of us into a mold that wasn't meant for us. Recognizing this as he went from place to place sharing about the liberty that is in Christ and coming into contact with throngs of people, the apostle Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit pens the words of Romans 12:1-2 to us, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 

In other words Paul was saying, do not let, don't allow this world to make you into something you were never meant to be. There is an old saying, "We are all born originals, but sadly most of us die copies of someone else." You and I were meant to be one of a kind, originals, and as God's Word declares, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). The word for workmanship in the Greek language is "work of art", "God's masterpiece"! To become everything God would have us be we must determine to follow Jesus and not the crowd. It's the road less traveled for sure that will get you where you need and want to truly go in this life. 

Jesus said it best, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14). Few there be that find it only because the majority miss the simplicity of the Gospel because they are following the crowd that says all roads lead to heaven, not realizing that there is in fact, in truth, only one way that leads to life and that is through Jesus Christ, God's Only son.

Take Jesus at His Word today, accept His wonderful invitation to, "follow Me" as He said, understanding to do that we do well to heed the words of the writer of the book of Hebrews who reminds us, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, to follow Him and not the crowd today, don't just look to Jesus but as well, keep looking to Jesus, don't take your eyes off Him.

Its safe to say as we consider Jesus life He didn't follow the crowds but rather the crowds followed Him. If you too want to enjoy the fullness of life that Jesus desires each of us to live, determine today to accept His invitation, and like Peter and the rest of the disciples, drop your nets as it were and pick up your cross and follow Him. Spend the rest of your life learning the reason you were born, why you are here and what are the plans God has for you. Its both life changing and life giving to tap into the very thing God tapped into you for. Don't miss out.

Yes, loved one, God has a plan that includes you! Jeremiah 29:11 shares that exact thought, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Knowing God has a plan that includes you resolve in your heart to run hard after God today keeping in mind the words of the psalmist who wrote,

"I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it."

Psalm 119:32-35


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"Life After The End Of The Rope"

"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes"

Romans 10:4

I always laugh when I think of that joke about the guy who falls over the edge of a cliff and finds himself hanging onto a tree branch sticking out of the side of the mountain thousands of feet up from the ground below. Crying out for someone to rescue him for what seems like and eternity he suddenly hears a sound coming from above that he believes to be the voice God saying, "Let go". Unsure if it is the Lord, the man cries out again, "Is that you God?" In a loud clear voice the voice replies, "Yes, it is I, 'let go'" to which the man responds, "is there anyone else up there?" I don't know about you but I can so easily relate to that man.

Obedience involves faith, and often times it requires what seems to us like a leap of faith or in this case a free fall. Have you ever heard the idiom, "I have come to the end of my rope" as if to say I am tired of waiting or I have run out of options? If so, know that is a great place to be in life as it is there in that moment that we find that there is life after the end of the rope, for its after the end of the rope when we have let go we discover who God is and what He is truly capable of.

The point is this, unless we come to the end of our proverbial rope as it were, God cannot use us to our fullest potential until we come to the end of the confidence we place in our own abilities. To help us discover how capable God is He often allows problems to come into our lives that are greater than our abilities to solve them are.

Like the saying, "you will never be more alive than the day you die", its equally true, we will never be more available to be used of God to fulfill our calling in this life than when we come to the end of our rope and let go. The trials that come our way are not designed to strengthen our grip so that we might try harder or hold on longer. Actually the trials of life are designed to do the very opposite. When we come to the end of our rope God wants us to allow ourselves to become weak, so weak we let go and trust the Lord to be strong for us.

You see friend, God never tells us to try harder to keep His laws. God does however by His grace invite us to surrender ourselves to Him so that He can live His life through us. That's the secret as it were to our strength and our success, the ability to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The apostle Paul expresses the Lord's heart perfectly in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 where he writes, "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." God is faithful, loved one, He will perform His perfect will in our lives as we let go. There really is life after the end of your rope. If you are trying to please God by being strong and holding on but you feel like you are losing your grip then do yourself a favor and let go! Let go of self sufficiency and choose rather to rest in the faithfulness of God that we read of in Jude 1:24-25,

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen."


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"Don't Block The View"

"For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

1 Corinthians 1:22-24

The apostle Paul is making it clear in his letters to the church at Corinth that life and ministry is all about living for and pointing the way to Jesus and we are most effective when we don't block the view. One of my favorite pastors has a list taped to his desk that he attempts to read each time he begins to study the Word of God in preparation for a sermon he will deliver. It says,

1. Think yourself empty
2. Read yourself full
3. Write yourself clear
4. Pray yourself hot
5. Be yourself, but don't preach yourself.

I appreciate that list because it helps remind me to not block the view of Jesus and to call to mind the words of John the Baptist as I prepare to teach, "I must decrease that He might increase." I wish I would have read that list about 25 years ago, but hey, I am encouraged today by something I try to remind my church family often, "The best time to plant a shade tree was 25 years ago, the second best day is today." Thank God for grace, amen!

I recently sent that quote to a young pastor I have the honor of speaking into his life occasionally when he hits a speed bump and is in need of some encouragement as he seeks to refocus on the road ahead. Ministry is hard and like my friend, I too am blessed by the brothers I have in Christ, both older and younger who share the wisdom of God with me that they have gleaned as they seek to serve the Lord.

I read a great quote this morning from one of my mentors that said, "The Point of Your Life Is To Point To Him" and I liked it so much I think I will add it to my list of sermon preparation thoughts as it too serves as a great reminder each day as to why I get up and get out of bed, or maybe better stated the reason I should get up and get out of bed. 

When you consider the meaning of your own life today what comes to mind? If someone followed you around with a camera or recorded your day on their smart phone and then uploaded it onto Youtube for all the world to see, what would people see? Would people see Jesus, "Christ in you the hope of glory" or would you be blocking the view by your own agenda and pursuits?

The apostle Paul reminds us in his own words that the point of our lives is to point to Christ and he even takes it a step further in Colossians 3:1-4 as to how we can make sure we don't block the view. Paul writes, "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."

Not everyone stands at a pulpit to teach the Word of God but we all are preaching, each one of us is sending out a message to the world each day by the way we carry ourselves. We are either pointing others to Jesus or we are blocking the view. I believe the disciples understood this principle more than anyone else as they walked with Jesus day in and day out and knew first hand what it was to point people to Jesus and likewise what it felt like when they blocked the view and got in the way. That is why I believe they asked Jesus to teach them to pray and why the Lord took the time the time to teach them what is known best as "The Lord's Prayer". Try praying it for yourself and see if it helps you like its helping me to better point people to Jesus rather than blocking the view.

"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

Matthew 6:9-13


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"Amazed By Grace"

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: "Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?"

2 Samuel 7:18

If we each got what we deserved in this life it would be hell, plain and simple and yet God has extended to each of us the opportunity to be amazed by grace and to experience heaven as a free gift. Of all the truths we could glean from our study of the Bible, the most important we need to know each and every day of our lives is the wonderful truth regarding God's grace. 

Grace is the foundation of all of God's dealings with us. Growing in grace should be the goal of every child of God daily, for its by God's grace that we enjoy consistent victory over sin. Its grace that motivates us to live a life that is pleasing to God, and it's the grace of God that nullifies the guilt and shame that seeks to condemn us at every turn when we blow it and sin. We could spend a million lifetimes studying and still only scratch the surface of God's amazing grace. The joy of bible study is seeing God's grace for ourselves in almost every bible story we read.

In the New Testament we read extensively about the grace of God in the books of Romans, Galatians and Ephesians. But are you aware that God's grace is evident all the way through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation? The Old Testament is rich with wonderful stories of God's grace. One of my favorite is found in 2 Samuel chapter nine where we read the story of Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is an illustration of both God's grace and His goodness, the kindness that He shows to sinners.

David is King of Israel as the story unfolds and like anyone who knows God's grace, David is looking for someone he can show kindness to on behalf of his dearest friend, Jonathan, the son of king Saul who was killed about 20 years earlier in battle alongside his father. David asks the question in 2 Samuel 9:1, "Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" The word kindness in the Hebrew language means, "lovingkindness" and it refers to God's unfailing love for His people. Notice in 2 Samuel 9:1 David never asks if there is someone worthy of kindness, David simply asks is there anyone alive in Jonathans family that he can show kindness, is there anyone he can show unmerited and undeserved favor too on Jonathans behalf. When David learned there was in fact someone, he sent for him. Mephibosheth you can say was pursued by grace.

When Mephibosheth learned the King was calling for him, his heart was overcome by fear. Any time there was a change in a monarchy, the new king would eliminate the possibility of a uprising or a coup by killing off the offspring of the previous monarchy. Mephibosheth most certainly thought he was a dead man, especially due to the fact he was lame in both his feet and useless in battle or pretty much anything for that matter by his own estimation.

Yet, when David met Mepibosheth he lavished him with grace, the very opposite of what Mephibosheth expected. That's what makes grace so amazing. Grace is the unmerited, undeserved, one way love of God given without merit to the recipient. It's simply an expression of God's very nature. Mephibosheth is adopted into David's family, invited to sit at the kings table and enjoy all the privileges of a son.

What I love most about this story is how when Mephibosheth is seated at the kings table his lameness is completely unnoticeable, its covered. No one is able to see his crippled feet as they are covered by the table. Everyone looks the same from the waist up. Imagine the joy that must have filled Mephibosheths heart to have that sense of belonging, of being just like everyone else when he was in the presence of the king seated around that table. What a picture of God's amazing grace and the extent He goes to find us and show us kindness and what it will be like one day when we too sit as sons around the Kings table, our lameness not only covered but healed as we enjoy breaking bread with one another and the Lord.

The story of Mephibosheth reminds me of the story of an incident that took place in California back in 1981, where a local police department staged an intensive search for a stolen car and the driver. The police even went as far as to place Public Service Announcements on local radio stations in hope they could make contact with the thief. Unbeknownst to the thief, on the front seat of the car was a box of crackers that were laced with poison. The owner of the car intended to use the crackers as rodent control, rat killer. Now, more important to the police and car owner than recovering the vehicle and apprehending the thief to arrest him, their efforts now were focused on an attempt to save his life.

Like that thief in this story, many people are on the run from the Lord, thinking that God is after them to punish them for all the sins they have committed. It's true that God is after us, but not for the reasons most of us think. God is after you and me like David was after Mephibosheth. God desire is to show us His grace and kindness, to offer us forgiveness for our sins. Jesus Christ, God's Only Son bore the penalty for all our sins when He died upon the Cross. But, if we do not receive His grace now, we will surly face His judgment later when we die. If you know you have sinned and broken God's laws and you feel like God is coming after you, know that He is, but again, not for the reasons you think. Jesus didn't come into this world to condemn us, He came that He might save us. Accept His invitation to come to the table, stop running from God and instead run to God and experience for yourself His grace and mercy, and enjoy sweet fellowship with the Father and the Son as you sup with them.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

Revelation 3:20


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"God IS There"

"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

In Psalm 34:1 anointed to be king, David penned these words at what was one of the most difficult moments of his life. You would think from reading this beautiful Psalm that David was sitting somewhere along the Mediterranean coast somewhere watching a beautiful sunset, not running for his life from king Saul and living under the suspicions of the king of Gath. When life was at its worst, in verse 1 David writes, "I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."

God created man with free will, and though God knows how we will respond since He is all knowing, He doesn't force our response. He leaves that up to us. We get to choose the way we respond to life. We can kick and scream or we can lift our hands in praise. The choice is ultimately ours.

How is it that some people can go through 'living hell' as it were and come out on the other side with their joy in tact while others fall a part at the slightest discomfort? The answer is Jesus. How we see and respond to Jesus makes all the difference in the world.

In the Old Testament David came to understand over the course of his life that God was faithful. Read Psalm 23 and you see for yourself that David knew by personal experience that God was ever present during the mountain top moments and equally present at the valley low's of life. David knew what I pray you and I know too, we can praise God at all times when we realize God is with us at all times.

In the New Testament, our greater than king David is our King Jesus who has made a promise to us too, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen." Matthew 28:20. Like David, we too can bless the Lord at all times and His praise can be in our mouths too for the exact same reason as David. God is with us at all times too!

Here is something to keep in mind today regardless if you feel as if you are sitting on a mountain top or if you are feeling like you are in the deepest darkest pit of despair running for your life. Wherever you are God is there!

Here is a quote that encourages me every time I read it and I pray it does the same for you!

"If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God."

"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

1 Thessalonians 5:8


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"For The Grace of God Go I"

"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ"

Ephesians 3:8

2 Kings 8:12-13 are a couple of verses that should cause each of us when we read them to sit up and take notice of our lives understanding that we are capable of anything, and I am not just talking of all the good things we might do. Lets pick up the conversation, "And Hazael said, "Why is my lord weeping?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child." So Hazael said, "But what is your servant--a dog, that he should do this gross thing?" And Elisha answered, "The LORD has shown me that you will become king over Syria."

Reading a chapter like 2 Kings 8 both breaks and encourages my heart almost simultaneously as I am first reminded how ugly my own heart can be even without me knowing it and yet at the same time my heart is encouraged seeing once again the love and grace of God in that He sees the ugliness of my heart even when I can't, and He still loves me in spite of my sin and selfishness.

2 Kings 8 is a solemn reminder that you and I are capable of just about anything regardless if we think or say otherwise. In the New Testament, Romans 12:3 reminds us, "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith."

The apostle goes on to declare in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." What the apostle Paul was communicating here is that even when he thought he was doing good he was not only wrong, but he was dead wrong. Sobering thoughts.

Victory in Jesus Christ can only be enjoyed when we recognize our desperate need for Him in every facet of our being. There is not one single area of our lives that is safe from sin apart from the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. Like the song sings loud and clear, "There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb." The danger in all our lives is when we, like Hazael in the story here can not envision our capacity for sin even though the scriptures make it perfectly clear that in fact we are capable of sin beyond our own imagination.

In Isaiah 64:6 God's word paints an ugly picture of our lives apart from Christ, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away." Ephesians 2:1-3 puts it like this, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others."

Today as I read these verses I am reminded that the reason the Gospel is Good News is due to the fact that there is Bad News first. Though our hearts can be ugly and we are often times incapable of seeing it, the Good News of the Gospel is God did see it in advance and is exactly why He sent us Jesus to be our Savior, to rescue us from both sin and death. Grace, amazing grace, how sweet the sound…that God would save a wretch like me!

Grace, grace, grace… Its only by the grace of God that you and I don't commit the same selfish sinful acts in this life like those Hazael commits here in 2 Kings 8, proving once again that grace isn't just a good thing, its the best thing, for by it you and I can be saved and kept day by day.

2 Kings 8 is a great reminder for us today. Lets determine to not trust ourselves, but rather trust the Lord instead. Do not look to yourself but rather look to Jesus, keeping our eyes fixed on Him knowing in Jesus we will be safe. As Pastor Chuck Smith would often say, "you are as safe as you are in Christ, abide in Christ". Wherever you find Jesus, you will find grace. Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you!

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."

Proverbs 3:5-6


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"Broken Into One"

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity."

John 12:24-25 (NLT)

Don't you wish life was like the birth of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup? You might not remember the television commercial decades ago where two total strangers were walking down a busy sidewalk somewhere in America when suddenly they bumped into one another while they were enjoying their favorite snack. As they collided and their opened in hand snacks collided, each exclaimed, "You got your chocolate on my peanut butter" and the immediate response was, "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate." The world has been left wondering all these years later who was ultimately responsible for the birth of this delicious candy that millions would say taste way better when broken (mixed) together than they ever could have if they remained apart.

What is true about a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is true about me and you too! We are way better together than we could ever be apart. At least that's the way God sees it and what His Word declares. In 1 Corinthians 12 we read, 1 Corinthians 12:12, "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." One of the great joys in this life is when we "seemingly" bump into others lives, and then together we each discover something delightful; we were meant for each other and as well we are better together than we ever were apart. The Bible beautifully illustrates this point of our need to be connected as it refers to those who belong to God as, "The body of Christ", "The family of God" and "Living stones".

Story after story our Bible's are filled with inspiring examples of God's plan for mankind being fulfilled as He brings people together for a purpose greater than anything we could ever know on our own. Take the gift of marriage for example. In the book of Genesis we read that when a man and woman are joined together in marriage something beautiful and mysterious happens, "And the two shall become one." The book of Ecclesiastes describes the benefits of friendship and how life is made more meaningful when it is shared with someone else, "Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

There is no greater example of how God goes about bringing us together than the Cross of Christ. The more we read our bible, the more we come to know that to truly become one we must first be broken in two as it were. Humility precedes honor and death comes before glorification. Philippians 2:5-8 gives us something to think about as the apostle Paul writes, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." Our ability to experience oneness was made possible when Jesus gave Himself on Calvary's Cross where He was broken for us with the hope that we might become one in Him.

Ephesians 2:13-19 reveals for us the price Jesus paid to bring us together and the benefits we can enjoy as we too are broken into one, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God"

Do you want to get the most out of life? I believe you do. Let God lead you to others today and enjoy the fullness of life that comes through sharing life. Be willing as it were to get peanut butter on your chocolate, or was it, chocolate on your peanut butter? Either way, if you and I will allow God to lead us to these "Divine Appointments" and we are open to God knitting our lives together in His love, the end result will something far more sweeter than we could ever enjoy by our going it alone.

"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are."

John 17:9-11


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"How to make the most of a bad day"

"And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens."

Ezra 9:6

Can you recall the last time you had a bad day? I hope not, but if you are anything like me at all you can remember it like it was yesterday, but hopefully its been longer than that. Can you remember what you did to get over it or through it? Sadly, some turn to drugs, the leading one being alcohol. Others turn to some other physical pleasure, while others inflict themselves with pain. Each of us has our way of dealing with life and most everyone finds themselves eventually looking for a positive solution of making the most of a bad day.

The prophet Ezra was no stranger to bad days and his life offers us a great model of what to do when we too are confronted with a day we would much rather forget. In Ezra chapter 9 we find the prophet of God not speaking for God but instead crying out to God. Lets just cut to the chase here. The key to making the most of a bad day is don't let your bad day cause you to turn away from God but rather let the hurts and the heartaches of this life bring you right to God.

Ezra does'nt just pray to God we read, he pours his heart out before God. And don't let anyone fool you into thinking God doesn't listen to long prayers or that in some way a long prayer looses it effectiveness because of its length.

Just read Ezra's prayer in chapter 9 and you will see it is rich with wisdom and insight as to how you and I should seek the Lord… especially in times of failure, which for sure makes for a bad day any way you slice it. When we are truly saddened by our sin we will do just like the worship song declares… "I pour out my heart" and that is exactly what Ezra does here.

Read what Ezra prays in verses 5 through 15 of chapter 9, "At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: "O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage. For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken Your commandments, which You commanded by Your servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which you are entering to possess is an unclean land, with the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations which have filled it from one end to another with their impurity. Now therefore, do not give your daughters as wives for their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons; and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever.' And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, since You our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this, should we again break Your commandments, and join in marriage with the people committing these abominations? Would You not be angry with us until You had consumed us, so that there would be no remnant or survivor? O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!"

Its very clear, Ezra is just pouring his heart out before the Lord. He's not asking God for anything, he is just letting all the stuff weighing him down out. Don't forget, prayer is talking with God, communing with your Heavenly Father. Don't buy into the lie that says God only wants you to come to Him asking for things, making requests of as if the Lord is some kind of cosmic genie, just waiting for us to rub the lamp of prayer as it were beckoning Him to come out and meet our demands.

On the contrary, what God created you and I for is intimacy with Him. More than anything else God wants us to know Him and the best way we can get to know anyone is to spend time… quality time with them. You have probably heard the old expression "how do children spell love… T…I…M…E." That's so true isn't it, time. Children want their parents time and God desires that we too would by an act of our own free will to want that time alone with Him and not just in those moments when we fail. Yes, loved one, the best way to spell love is, TIME.

If you are having a bad day today I wish I could sit with you and remind you that God loves you and that He is there for you. Don't just look for a quick fix for your bad day, look to Jesus as He has an eternal solution! God is there, so don't just spin your wheels settling for a temporal fix, let your bad day bring you to God so you can get a better perspective, a heavenly one. Remember, God is bigger than your problem, He's bigger than your bad day. With that in mind don't focus on the size of your problem today, focus on the size of your God. That's how you make the most of a bad day.

Do you have reason to pour out your heart today, loved one, is there something or someone that has grieved your heart. Don't carry the burden yourself, carry everything to God in prayer, and leave it there. Take it from someone who has had their fair share of bad days. The answer for me is the same answer for you! Spend some time pouring out your heart to the very one who poured out His heart for you on the Cross!

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God"

Philippians 4:6


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"Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing"

But as it is written: " Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

1 Corinthians 2:9

One of the amazing benefits of faith in Jesus Christ is the ability it affords us to see the end from where we are at in the moment, even when we can't see the end. That might sound confusing but Hebrews 11:1 puts it into perspective, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It was John F. Kennedy who said, "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." His brother Robert said along those same lines, "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not." Both of those quotes remind me of the prophet Joel and the importance in life to stay focused on the big picture, and that being God.

The devil works in the world to get our eyes off the Lord, off the main thing and begin to focus on the trite and the trivial, the temporal and not the eternal. How easy is to forget there are only three things in this world that are eternal, God, the Word of God and the souls of men. These three things are the main things God desires that we focus our lives on, and not for His benefit but for ours.

Going through the book of Joel we are reminded that the Lord allows adversity into our lives to cause us to look to him and not to ourselves or even other people for the solutions to life's problems. Just listen to the conversations people have with you today or better yet listen to yourself as you speak with others. The person of faith, saving faith that the bible speaks seek to look at life from an eternal perspective. That's what living in light of the resurrection of Jesus will cause us to do. To start with the end in mind you might say. By focusing on the things up above we are more apt to keep in mind that old saying, "don't sweat the small stuff and remember, its all small stuff."

Keeping the main thing the main thing is learning to not sweat the small stuff and instead, seeing a sovereign God working behind the scenes directing life to its ultimate end, capitalizing on every situation and circumstance. Seeing the big picture helps us to remember that God is in control of my life, not our fellow man nor the circumstances each us of must face and often times endure. Proverbs 21:1 reminds us, "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." Knowing that is true we can rest in knowing, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

The prophet Joel saw the temporal and Joel saw the eternal as well, and the heart of this amazing prophet was for the people and that they would know they could trust God no matter what. Even in the midst of a catastrophe God is working. The people could run, they could flee or they could turn to God and watch Him heal and watch Him restore, they could watch Him bless and watch Him redeem.

What a scene it must have been for the prophet of God as the locust devoured the crops and ravaged the land there in Israel, and yet without wavering Joel could stand there and still proclaim that God is faithful, and that He was working through, not apart from the situation to usher in a blessing like Israel had never witnessed before. Joel got to see the end, loved one, a glorious end where all things will be made new because he set his heart on God, on the eternal God and not the temporal conditions around him.

Don't lose sight of the eternal, the big picture in your own life. Keep Jesus as the main thing and don't let the devil distract you by attempting to take your focus off the end of the story, your story, which is ultimately, His story. Remember, Jesus is the main thing! Rest assured today, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). Keep your life focused on the eternal, on the things up above and the temporal will take care of it self. Easier said then done I know, so pray for me, and know I am praying for you! Remember the words of the prophet spoken of in Joel 2:25-26 that no matter what...

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you." You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame."

Joel 2:25-26


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"The Worship of Sex Verses Sex That Worships"

"So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son."

Ruth 4:13

Are you aware that the story of Boaz and Ruth in the book bearing her name is a story about the birth of worship? It's more just than a love story, more than just a book about redemption. The book of Ruth is about worship. I have always enjoyed learning how Boaz redeemed Ruth's life as her kinsmen redeemer and how he turned her weeping into rejoicing and her famine into a wedding feast, but what I had not noticed was the beauty of Ruth and Boaz purity and how even their sexual intimacy was an act of worship to God.

In a world that might know a lot about sex and lust it knows almost nothing about real intimacy and true love. The world you can say worships sex where God wants our sex to result in worship. The book of Ruth is refreshing to say the least on how a married couple can prefer one another and in the process give birth to worship. Let me explain.

In Ruth chapter 4 verse 13, it says, "So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son." In our culture we have a saying when someone likes or even loves another person and is interested in them personally. The phrase "I am into you" is a relational statement that conveys an interest in the person that does not necessarily have anything to do with sex. I realized in my gleaning of the book of Ruth that Boaz was "into Ruth" as a person. He loved her for who she was and his love was manifest in how he cared for her, in that he provided for and protected her. I think it is safe to say Boaz was "into" Ruth long before he married her and experienced the joy of sexual intimacy with her. Verse 13 is just the beautiful consummation of their wedding vows, God's blessing on their being patient and waiting until the moment was right. God took their "becoming one" and turned it into worship.

The best part of Ruth and Boaz story is what we find next. They bore a son and the name given him was the name "Obed" which means, "Worship". This is what made the whole relationship so extraordinary. The love Ruth shared with Boaz resulted in the worship of God. The end result of the intimacy between Boaz and Ruth was their son Obed, "worship". The world we live in has always confused sex for love but God has always intended that our sexuality be expressed as an act of worship to Him. It's the very opposite of idolatry where sex is place above and in place of God. Consider this if you will today. Fornication can never result in worship, as it is sin. Adultery can never be called love for it is sin. Homosexuality can never be love for God calls it sin. Our sexuality can only be expressed as worship when we follow God's leading and obey His command.

There is an order to how God works, from the Old to the New Testament, God has mapped out the way by which man can approach God, and how we can live lives pleasing to Him. There is a time and a place for everything under the sun, Solomon wrote in his wisdom. I remember something one of the pastors my wife and I met with in our premarital counseling said to us regarding the timing of God and our being patient and waiting for the right moment to enjoy sexual intimacy. He said, "dirt in your flowerbed is good, dirt on your kitchen floor is not good." He said that to mean there is a time and a place for everything and when we wait for the right time and place there is a blessing and when we choose to disobey God and take matters into our own hands we end up with a mess, like having dirt in your kitchen.

Romans 12 :1-2 might help shed some light on this when the apostle Paul penned these words, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Boaz and Ruth were committed to God and were patient as they waited for all the requirements of the law to be fulfilled so that Boaz could become her kinsmen redeemer. God honored their faithfulness by blessing them with a son, a son named "worship". Not only were Boaz and Ruth blessed by a son but also the whole world has been blessed too as Obed had a son named Jesse and Jesse had a son named David who became King of Israel and we know that our Savior Jesus Christ came from the line of David. And it was all made possible because Boaz and Ruth loved the Lord and sought to honor Him in their sexuality and God most assuredly blessed them.

With all my heart I encourage you to live a life of sexual purity and to present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable to Him. Not only will you be blessed, your family for generations to come will be blessed too. The world might be into sex but God is into worship and He wants the joy of our sexual intimacy to result in worship and not just self-gratification. Sexual intimacy is to be an expression of a deeper love that is shared between husband and wife that results in their oneness of body, soul and spirit. When two people are so "into" one another in this way they will never just be having sex again, they truly will be engaging in the act of love that results in the worship. Don't settle for less, look not only to please yourself, seek to please God and let Him turn you love into worship.

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"

Philippians 1:6


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"You Don't Have To Advertise A Fire"

"For our God is a consuming fire."

Hebrews 12:29

It was Leonard Ravenhill, a noted revivalist who once wrote, "You never have to advertise a fire" and it's true. You can often see the smoke for miles and you'd be amazed at how far people will travel out of their way to discover the source. Proof you really don't have to advertise a fire. That's the beauty of passion, as within it there is both intensity and desire. Let me ask you today, what are you passionate about in your life, beloved of God? What is it in your life that you feel intensity and desire when it comes to mind? For Jesus it was His desire to please His Father, and Jesus loved the Father so much that not even the pain, and suffering that He would suffer on Calvary's Cross could quench His passion. For the apostle's it was preaching Jesus and His Cross as each, one by one would sacrifice their very lives for the joy of knowing Him. Can you think of something you love so much that you would give your life for it? Is there something you love so much you would be willing to suffer and die for it?

Each time I think about loving someone or something so much that I would be willing to suffer or if need be die for it, immediately the Cross of Christ comes to mind. The power of the Cross changes everything it touches, loved one, and once we come in contact with it we will never be the same. John Wesley once remarked about his own life, "Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn." He also would say, "I set myself on fire (through prayer) and people come to watch me burn (speaking of his burning with passion at the teaching and preaching of the Cross of Christ).

Did you know that our English word "enthusiasm" comes from two Greek words, "en", where we get our English word "in" and "theos" which is where we get our English word, "theology", the study of "God". The world can't righty claim to be enthusiastic as enthusiasm is a theological word to describe people who enjoy a relationship with God. That makes the most enthusiastic people walking the face of the earth are those who are living their lives, "in God"! Lets determine to live like it today! The Cross changes everything because the Cross is where Jesus died so that we could live! The Cross is powerful as on it when Jesus died, He took with Him the penalty for our sin, providing for us the power to live victoriously over it and leaving all who place their hope and trust in Him the peace of knowing that one day soon, even the very presence of sin will be vanquished as death is swallowed up in sweet victory!

Jesus said of you and I whose lives belong to Him, that we are like a city set on a hill that can't be hidden. Believe it or not God saved you to show you off, to stand out as a trophy of His grace. He didn't save us to be His slave and to spend the rest of our lives trying to earn His love and respect. God saved us because He loves us. He desires a relationship with us. God wants our lives to stand out for Him, to serve as a reminder to the world our God is the God of grace, who loves and cares and is willing to save any and all who come to Him by faith.

The word sanctified means, "set apart". God has set us apart for His own good pleasure, you are His prized possession, yes, a trophy of His amazing grace that He wants the world to see. There is an old saying, "Their walk was so loud I couldn't hear them speak". That old saying is a reminder to you and me to be passionate about our relationship with Jesus today, to let our shine. Lets be enthusiastic about our faith today so that the world might see the smoke rising and know what gets us fired up and burn with passion. May the world see our love for the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in us.

Our passion, our love for our Savior is what ignites the fire deep within us and sets us ablaze and allows us to be a light set on a hill that can't be hidden. Yes, loved one, its true, you don't have to advertise a fire, all we need to do is just fan the flame and then let it burn, let it shine!

"And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"

Luke 24:32


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"No Regrests"

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver."

Proverbs 25:11

In a television interview about a young girl who was abducted in 1991 walking home from school and then found some 18 years later when he abductors were arrested, television host Diane Sawyer asked Jaycee Dugard's Mom what her biggest regrets were during the 18 years she and her daughter were apart. What Jaycee's mom shared was surprising in that the biggest regret she lived with all those years had nothing to do with what had been done to her daughter by her captors, her biggest regret she dealt for almost 18 years is what she as a Mom had failed to do on the morning Jaycee was abducted.

The day Jaycee was abducted, her Mom, Terry Probyn was in a rush for work and said in the interview with Diane Sawyer, "I'd been late to work three Monday mornings in a row and I was focused completely on myself, trying to get myself out that door, so I wouldn't be late to work." Probyn said, my biggest regret that day was, "I chose not to go and kiss my girls goodbye that morning ... I wanted to be on time."

Most stories like Jaycee Dugard's don't end like this one where Mother and daughter are reunited and the regrets of 18 years are given a second chance. That was one of the obvious blessings you could see in the interview. This mother and daughter chose to make the most of the time they have together knowing there is no way to make up for lost time. James 4:13-14 says it best, "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

Yes, loved one, life is short at best and today is the day to begin to do all the things you have waited and wanted to do as there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Its been well said, "tomorrow is the devils favorite word that he loves to hear God's children speak" because the devil knows we aren't God and we have no guarantee of tomorrow. The devil knows that in our delaying and procrastinating the things we need to say and do, more often than not we are left with a lifetime of regrets.

Yet, the good news of God's grace in the believers life is repentance. Repentace is a beautiful thing as what the word implies. Repentance is basically saying, "if I could go back and do it over again I would do it differently, I would do it God's way". Thank God He knows our heart, loved one, and if you have regrets over your past, repentance is God's second chance, even if we can't go back and redo those things we regret not doing.

Today is about deciding to not live with regret. Say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done today! There is a famous quote that comes to mind today when I consider how to avoid living a life of regret. May it minister to you like it does to me. "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."

James 4:13-15 


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"Friends Don't Let Friends Grieve Alone"

"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."

John 15:15

One of the many lessons we can glean from studying the life of Job is how to grieve, as if there is a right or a wrong way. Job teaches us to not "stuff" our pain but to instead to be honest about it, allowing ourselves ample time to grieve properly, yes properly, when dealing with death and loss that not only touches us all, but if shared, actually binds us together, first, to God and then to others. When Job's world falls apart the first thing he does is turn to God. Job 1:20-22 tells us how Job responded to his loss. "Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong."

Loss is a part of life and though the nature of loss is sin, not all loss is due to our own sin as Job's life will attest. The origin of sin is due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, who through their disobedience to God ushered into the world sin and death and with death, loss of every sort. All of our lives are touched by death and loss tracing all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Every single person who has ever walked the face of this earth has suffered the ultimate loss, the death of family and friends. What we don't have to do when suffering loss, is suffering alone. In Job chapter 2 we read how Job's friends responded to the news of their friends devastating losses, "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place--Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great." (Job 2:11-13).

I remember the first time I read the statement below as one friend recalled the emptiness he felt at the death of his best friend after his tragic backpacking accident and as I read his recollection of the event I was reminded of the love that existed between King David and Jonathan that we read of in 1 Samuel. David was to become king and Jonathan was the son and heir apparent to the throne of Israel, yet, each had a tender heart for the other and shared it openly. 1 Samuel 18:1 paints a picture in our minds thats easy to see, "Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." True friendships like these grow deep and the pain we feel when they end are almost beyond words. I have always been awed by the transparency of the love of David and Jonathan and I have felt that pain David speaks of upon hearing the news of the death of his dear friend. 2 Samuel 1:26 expresses David's raw emotion in poetic fashion, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me; Your love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women."

Those words of David reminded me of those shared in a book I read years ago where the author wrote about his writing partner and best friend who had been killed in a hiking accident. He chose to not grieve alone and through writing he found comfort for himself and by sharing his experience has brought that same comfort to countless others. Its so true, friends don't let friends grieve alone. The author wrote, "I lost the truest friend I have ever known. I lost more than a partner, I lost the rarest of gifts to me, my friend whose heart saw what mine saw and knew what mine knew. Our friendship was a shared journey, a mutual quest, for the secret of our souls. It took us into the mountains, to the beach, through the desert, into literature. Our friendship took us into the deepest battle raging all around for our hearts and the hearts of those we love. We laughed and cried, we grieved and scorned and yearned and rejoiced all along the way. There is a hole in my world now, a perspective so rare and so precious to me that is now gone. Nobody saw what my friend saw, knew what my friend knew, and remembers what my friend remembers or loved what my friend loved. Questions I have can never now get answers. My world is an emptier place."

That last sentence slaughters me every time I read it, "My world is an emptier place" I picture this man standing on the edge of a vast valley and yelling out his friends name, no, screaming at the top of his lungs that name and then standing there alone and hearing the echo of that lone voice travel out over the expanse for what seems like an eternity as it fades off into oblivion without any response. Do you know that kind of pain, loved one, do you know that sort of emptiness in the pit of your soul? If so, just know you are not alone. I imagine God the Father and God the Son both know the kind of pain and emptiness that the separation at death brings about as when Jesus Christ bore the sin and guilt of the world on Calvary's Cross when He died in our place He was cut off from the Father for the first and only time in all eternity.

Like in the story of Job, "Friends don't let friends grieve alone." Just as Job came to know, the true test of any friendship is discovered in the darkest moments of life when your own life is suddenly and completely shattered and seemingly, everyone walks away leaving you feeling lost and alone. And then, suddenly almost out of nowhere through the tears you see the shadow of one, maybe two, possibly three coming to you and without a word, they sit beside you, loving you with their presence without speaking a single word. Oh to know the comfort of friends. Don't worry about what to say when someone you care about suffers the loss of a loved one, just being there for them speaks volumes. Remember, friends don't let friends grieve alone.

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

James 1:27


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"Trophies of Grace"

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Ephesians 2:4-10

No one can say he or she deserves heaven, as each of us is a trophy of God's grace. Your life and mine are the trophies of God on display for all the world so that they can see the different victories that our lives represent. Not our performance mind you, but God's in Christ. Your life and mine are testimonies of the goodness of God in sending His Son to die upon the Cross because we all know (at least I do), if I got what I deserved from God it would be far from heaven, it would be pure hell. Each of our lives tell a unique story about the height and width and depth of God's love in Christ, and to what extreme He went too to rescue us. Best of all, our God story reveals that God's love is relentless in that He didn't quit pursuing us and that He never gives up on us even after He found us.

These last couple of weeks since starting a new series in the book of Galatians, I have had conversations with numerous people who expressed feeling inadequate to share Jesus with others because of our own sin and failure (since coming to Christ and not just before we met Christ). The devil is really good at making us feel we are disqualified from sharing our God story with others when our lives are anything less than perfect.

Our testifying of the Lord's goodness is not diminished in any way because we confess our sins and failure to the world. In all actuality it is only heightened because it clearly sends the message to those that would be critical of our lives or of God that we don't deserve heaven is that the only possible reason then for our salvation has to be the grace of God apart from anything we have ever done good or bad. Yes, loved one, salvation is and always has been by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!

Its what the apostle Paul was speaking about in the book of Romans when he wrote, "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Did you catch that, loved one, where sin abounded grace did all the more. There is only one sin you and I can commit that God's grace cannot forgive. The only way to be beyond the grace and forgiveness of God is to reject the only means of salvation God has offered the world, and that is to die without ever receiving God's grace in the first place, by refusing so great a salvation made possible by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. What I hope you understand today, friend, is that God is better at saving than we are at sinning, and that Jesus is a greater Savior than we are sinners!

Don't let your fickleness, nor your fears or even your failures prevent you from exalting the Lord. Remember, "where sin abounds grace does all the more." Proclaim His goodness every chance you get no matter what or how you feel about you in the moment, because in reality it's not about me or you, its about Jesus. We will never be worthy of heaven apart from Jesus, never. It really is Jesus + nothing = salvation.

"Trophies of Grace" is what we are but using athletics as an example, a trophy of God's grace is more than being "inspirational". Think of being a trophy of God's grace like being the "Comeback Player Of The Year" which is an award given out in sports usually to a player who was injured or suffered some terrible setback in their athletic career that lead pretty much everyone into thinking that they would never be able to play again, let alone at the level they once had enjoyed. Never underestimate the restoration power of God who has the ability to heal and make all things new, or as the word "restore" means in the Greek language, "to be better than new!" Talk about God's grace being amazing!

Experiencing Christ's mercy and grace, His resurrection power in our lives is not only what saved us to begin with, its what keeps us even now and is also what draws us back to Him when we fail miserably. God's amazing grace is what makes us trophies of God's grace and what makes it possible to receive as it were the "Comeback Player of The Year" honors. Never forget, loved one, Jesus is in the business of restoring broken lives, He came to set the captives free. God is good at rescuing, if you need to be saved just cry out to Him!

Remember this today, it's not how hard you fall in life that matters most but how high you bounce back that counts. Proverbs 24:16 says it best, "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity." Keep getting up! It's not trying harder it's trusting more that matters! Don't quit, don't give in to the lies of the devil, there is victory ahead if you keep your eyes on Jesus and keep trusting in and relying upon Him.

You can win again, loved one, you can experience the fullness of life that is in Christ because it's not based upon what you do or don't do. Its based on what Christ has already accomplished for you! We receive our victory when we receive Christ because it was from Calvary's Cross Jesus cried out, "It is finished." No one can add too or take away from what Jesus did for us! The victory is ours in Jesus today! 

Let your life stand as a testimony of God's amazing grace, even when you fail and fall down. Get back up, and remember, you are a trophy of His grace! Share your God story and the depths to which Jesus went to find and to rescue you! You will be encouraged, others will find hope and be inspired and best of all, God gets all the glory!

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 15:57


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"What's Your Leitmotif"

"My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

Psalm 45:1

Have you considered lately what the leitmotif of your life is? In other words what is your life's theme? For some its drama, for others its action, some like to go fast while others like to take it slow? For some life seems to always be hard, yet for others it goes relatively smooth. I guess it all comes down to what you are planting day in and day out. 

In Psalm 45:1 the writer declares that his heart is overflowing with a good theme, a good leitmotif, but why? What causes the heart to overflow with a good theme one might ask? Have you ever heard the expression, "garbage in garbage out" to express what a person puts into their life is also what comes out of their life as well? If that is true and the Bible declares it is in that whatever a man sows that too he will reap, (Galatians 6:7). The only way then for our hearts to overflow with good things is for our hearts to first be filled with good things. Think of it this way, Jesus in, Jesus out! 

Where do we get good things to fill our hearts overflowing with a good theme so we can experience Jesus in and Jesus out? Jesus Himself answered that question when He said in John 7:38, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Just like in psalm 45, a good theme comes from good thoughts and good thoughts come from focusing our thoughts on the one who loves us like no other. When we consider the goodness of God, how can our hearts not be overflowing with a good leitmotif.

Do you desire to have a good leitmotif for your day, your week and for your life? If so, focus; focus on the goodness of God daily and count your blessings. Seek the Lord and sing His praises, recite His promises, make known His deeds and declare His Word. It's really that simple. The more we fill our lives with God, the more of God will flow from our lives. Just remember, Jesus in, Jesus out!  

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:8-9


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"Just As If You Never Sinned"

"being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"

Romans 3:24 (NKJV)

Have you ever heard the theological word, "justification" to describe what Jesus atoning death on Calvary's Cross has provided for all who believe in Him? In simple laymen terms its a declaration, "Just As If You Never Sinned" that means when Jesus Christ died on Calvary's Cross He took with Him all of our sins, our past, present and future sins and He paid in full the price for each and every one of them leaving you and I completely forgiven, completely righteous before God. 

That brings up another theological concept to mind, "imputed righteousness" which means that God declares us righteous or "in right standing before God" solely on the basis of faith in what Jesus has accomplished for us by His life, death, burial and resurrection and not by anything we have ever done through works or the keeping of the law, as no amount of good works or the keeping of any law can justify anyone before God. Galatians 3:6 says it plainly how our righteousness is achieved, "just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Believing in God and trusting Him is all God asks of us. We call that faith. 

As a pastor there is nothing I enjoy more than helping someone come to terms with their forgiveness that is made possible through faith in Jesus Christ. It usually occurs after many anguishing months or maybe even years of being beat down by the Devil, sometimes even family members and friends who know the backstory of their shame and guilt and who frequently remind them of a past they would rather forget, they finally work up the courage to make an appointment and come in for help.

There really is nothing in this life that can compare to the moment when a sinner becomes a saint, where the guilt and shame of our sins are lifted from off our backs and placed securely on the back of Christ, and the reality of what Jesus accomplished for us sinks in as we begin to comprehend when He Himself carried each and every one of our sins up that hill to Calvary's Cross and nailed them to His own body, taking our place so that we could go free.

Many people have heard the story of Jesus Christ and how He came from heaven to earth to redeem the lost, to save sinners and set at liberty the captives. Sadly, not as many have actually received the grace and mercy God offers us by placing our hope and trust in Christ and experiencing the forgiveness and freedom, the complete "just as if you never have sinned" justification and subsequent "imputed righteousness" that follows. I know from personal experience the sickly conclusion that says, "the worse I feel about my sin and guilt the better off I am". Its why some people love sermons that make them feel bad about themselves and their past so they can appreciate God's grace all the more. If only we realized we don't have a past. All that remains for those in Christ Jesus is a hope and a future. 

What makes the Gospel good news is that the Gospel is good news! When we come to Jesus confessing our sins and inviting Him into our heart as Savior and Lord, He forgives us our sins, not merely covering them over but removing them completely as if they were never there. If you have come to Christ and received Him into your heart, then your account, the ledger bearing your name in heavens record is spotless, no thought or mention of any past sin or failure. You are as free as it gets.

Think about this long and hard today, friend. Why do you think every time a person was brought to Jesus in the Gospels who was caught in their sin, Jesus would look upon them and say, "your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more?" Its one thing to say your sins are forgiven and quite another to say go and sin no more. Yet, you see, loved one, when Jesus forgives us, He also forgets the sins we had committed as He washes our slate perfectly clean. Its a package deal and what a deal it is! 

Don't take my word for it, take Gods. Listen carefully to the words of Micah 7:19, "He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea." Or if one verse wasn't enough, how about Psalm 103:12 which reminds us, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." It was Corrie ten Boom who once said, and I would imagine it was after reading these passages she said, "God takes our sins, the past, present, and future, and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says 'No Fishing Allowed.'" Because of Jesus, we are free to move forward, as the chains of sin and shame, of guilt and bondage has been broken. We don't have a past, all we have is a future because we have been set free!

There is no greater joy than to confess all our sins to God and feel so clean and nothing worse than the subsequent attacks of the devil upon our lives as he seeks to heap condemnation upon us by reminding us of our past sin and failures. Trying with everything he's got the enemy seeks to convince us that Jesus hasn't truly forgiven us. We so easily forget that truth mixed with a lie is always a lie. Yet, still we make our way back to God in prayer to once again confess those sins again only to learn that we were already forgiven and that there remains no record of any wrongs. Oh the joy of justification, oh the feeling of imputed righteousness, of being washed and set free! Thank you Jesus! 

"What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin."

Romans 4:1-8 (NKJV)


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"When Being True To Self Means Living A Lie"

"There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death".

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)

A glimpse of the world today. A young college student stands up in his philosophy class and denounces any belief in God and the class, lead by an atheist professor breaks out in thunderous applause of support. A woman makes plaster sculptures of various objects, some with the semblance of the moon and sun and stars, trees and wild beasts, some, half man or woman and the other half animal, or sea creature, and all with some form of genitalia protruding out from them. There was a time when most would have viewed this not as art but rather some form of perverted expression, done by someone in need of psychological intervention but instead is celebrated and displayed in some of the most prestigious galleries in the world. 

A writer pens the words to a billboard hit song that uses the Lords name not just in vain, but deliberately slandering then mocking the name of Jesus Christ by using such vulgar language that for decades was banned from television and radio for being overly offensive and not suitable for any audience regardless of age. Now, the artist receives a grammy award and is lavished with both the praise and prosperity all the while thanking, "the man upstairs" during the bands acceptance speech.

Everyone listed here will admit that living life in the fast lane comes at a price, freedom. You make your mark while you can they believe, resting someday, and because time is of the essence there is no need nor time for organized religion. If there is a common denominator in the lives recounted here, it's a disdain for the biological family. Family is who run with and who follow you at the drop of a hate wherever you go. Parents are little more than anchors to a past that their wayward children would just as well forget, and a reminder of a future they don't want.

A man takes the life of a police officer doing her job and a suddenly a growing segment of society cheers the killer instead of mourning the fallen hero, killed trying to protect and serve. A news flash goes out and the country is divided. Some rush to judgment actually blaming law enforcement. Many who are interviewed sympathize with the perpetrator who is portrayed as a victim who should be exonerated. After all they say, he is only a child. Even worse, many would say they too would commit the same crime if they felt they could get away with it. The sanctity of life has little meaning unless it's our own, and oh how soon we forget aborted babies aren't old enough or afforded the right to vote so their voices don't count.

Today more than ever men and women are sex objects viewed as trophies of accomplishment in a lust crazed society. Single, married, separated or divorced are merely labels the religious place on people who are merely attempting to find happiness in this world. After all, who are we to judge two consenting adults? Their business is after all, their business.

Locks are only meant to keep out honest people, right? A man is let go from his job and finds himself hungry so he robs the local convenience store around the corner from his home. The camera's easily identify him and later he is apprehended. In just a few hours he is back home celebrating with the liquor he stole because the judge hearing his case determined had the man not been terminated from his work he would have had no reason to steal. And on top of that, the man attested to the fact that he didn't use a gun while committing the crime as he knew that particular crime came with a mandatory jail sentence. Knowing he would get nothing more than a slap on the wrist he opted for handing the cashier a note. The only punishment handed down that day was a verbal lashing by the judge against corporate America for being greedy.

People make money off of writing blogs and posting their thoughts and opinions on social media regardless or not if they are true. Fake news might be a new term but its far from new as the Enquirer has been around for decades. Gossip is as old as conversation and it sells. With the invention of the Internet, and the fact its free and readily available to anyone needing their five minutes of fame, slander has simply become a way of life for bitter people to express themselves as they have nothing better to do. "That's life" most would say until they discover the fake news posted is about them, then we all want justice.

If you have cable television you know too well what commercials are as there are now more commercials being shown during your favorite program than the actual episode you are watching. Advertisers know we live in a consumer driven world and that we know what we want and that we want it now. And now is becoming more and more easy to attain. With one simple click of a key that item that you just can't live without can be yours, safely delivered to your front door step in no longer a number of days but now, hours. Your wish is my command retailers proclaim in an attempt to satisfy our whims, that attempt to fill the void in our hearts that was designed for only Jesus to fill.

What I just did was demonstrate how easily in society we can treat the 10 Commandments as if they are nothing, and how many in society break the commands of God daily without any thought or conscious effort. Sadly, the Christianity practiced by so many professing believers these days has little if any grounding in God's Word. In an attempt at being relevant to the world it appears that many pulpits are failing to make clear the foundational truth regarding man's basic state.

My wife sent me an article about a Christian music artist who was married with a family and who was also "coming out" admitting he was gay and proud of himself in that he now was being true to himself. The part of the article that grabbed my attention said, "For any Christian, being "honest" with ourselves is coming to recognize that we are sinners, pulled towards sinful urges (sexual and otherwise) by a depraved nature that leads us into believing we can be gods of our own private universes. It requires us to confront the destiny of our sinful souls and choose repentance and reliance on a power that is not of this world – a power that makes the blind see, the lost found, and the vilest offender of the Christian faith into the greatest Christian missionary the world has ever known. It requires us to recognize that no matter how strong the urge to sin may be, no matter how natural or powerful it may appear when compared to our earthly strength, the same spirit that rose Jesus from the grave is available to raise us up out of our deadly desires and designs".

But rather than be honest with himself, many in the church today have chosen to deceive themselves (and sadly so many others) into believing that ones sinful urge defines them, controls them, and owns them. Many have decided to allow sin the power to devastate their lives, forever confuse and injure their families, and take the throne room of their soul away from Christ. Being "honest" with ourselves means that we acknowledge the way that seems – and feels – so right to us, leads us to death (Proverbs 14:12).

God tells us repeatedly that the only way to live is to die (Galatians 2:20). God desires not that we exalt ourselves but that we die to self (Ephesians 4:22-24). Believers are to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Jesus Himself told us that anyone who wants to save his life will lose it (Mark 8:35), and that anyone who does not take his cross and follow is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38). How soon we forget that the Christian life is about denial of self (Colossians 3:5) not the coming to terms with self and surely not giving into self.

Pray for Christians who are strategically placed by God in this life and who are willing and able to reach people in those vulnerable moments that every person on the path of sin and destruction eventually finds them-self on, and that they will exhibit the courage needed to speak truth that hurts but heals. Pray that those entangled in any and all sin may come to trust the Word of God over the words of men, experiencing both the forgiveness and freedom that is found only in Jesus Christ.

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed"

John 8:36 (NKJV)


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"Divine Appointments"

'For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.'

John 13:15

Have you ever thought that what you and I consider to be an interruption in our day just might be a divine appointment? I find myself repenting a lot as of late as I consider how easily frustrated I can become when my day is (in my mind) is interrupted by unplanned events. What I am having to relearn is that what I consider interruptions are in fact divine appointments. Perusing my Twitter feed today I came across a tweet that a friend and fellow pastor posted. It was a quote by Eugene O'Neill that I just couldn't quit thinking about once I read it. It said, "Each day is a life in miniature". That tweet brought a barrage of scenes to my mind, especially after I discovered that tweet was in response to yet another tweet that was quoting C.S. Lewis who wrote, "The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own', or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life – the life God is sending one day by day."

Yes, loved one, each day we live is a life in miniature so we need to make the most of them! The apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Romans that whatever happens to us and whatever comes our way, good or bad, God can and will ultimately use for our good. Romans 8:28 reminds us, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." You and I belong to God and because of that, there are no interruptions to our day, they are merely divine appointments that God scheduled for us.

As I ponder these quotes above, the words of Jesus come to mind. The Gospel of Matthew gives us a glimpse into why we need to see the seemingly interruptions to our day as divine appointments from God Himself, Matthew 25:31-40 quotes Jesus speaking, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

What do you think? Do you still believe those unplanned and unscheduled disruptions to your day are interruptions or are they actually divine appointments scheduled by God? I think the answer is clear. Each day really is life in miniature. Determine to follow the Lord's example knowing God will take those interruptions we respond to with joy and like only He can, He will fashion them into a crown!

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)


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"A Bigger Yes"

"And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

1 John 2:17

Listening to one of my favorite pastors at a conference a few years back, he was speaking on getting the most out of the Christian experience and living a life that pleases God. During his message he said, "you've got to have a bigger yes". What he meant by that statement in context was to live a life of victory while enjoying our freedoms, lives that are filled with joy, we can't just go through life saying 'no' to everything, though we do need to learn to say no to many things, especially those things the Word of God clearly instructs us to avoid or abstain from. What makes saying no possible for those who believe in Jesus is, we have a bigger yes! And that bigger yes is grace, God's amazing grace!

Consider this, no one knows their way around heaven better than Jesus and there is no greater authority on eternal life than the Son of God, so when Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" there is a good reason for it. The things of the world are temporal at best where as the things of God are eternal, they last forever!

Some people have stronger will power than others but the good news for anyone wanting to say no to sin and ungodliness is the grace of God. God's grace is good news for us, a guarantee that we can indeed live a life that is both pleasing to the Lord and to us. Because its by grace that we have been saved by the precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are set free from the bondage of this world and all its passions. We are now free to love God and to walk in His ways.

In Titus 2:11-14 (NIV), the apostle Paul reminds us that having a bigger 'yes' that governs our lives is what makes it possible to say 'no' to sin. Paul writes, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

Did you catch that? Saying 'no' to the sin is possible because of the grace of God. Grace is our bigger 'yes'! When temptation knocks on the door of your heart and the pressures of this life try to pull you down, look up! Look up to Jesus, focus on the bigger 'yes', keeping in mind that one day, one day soon the Lord will appear again for us in the clouds, and gather us up to be with Him forever! "Two in the hand is better than one in the bush" the world might say, but nothing this world has to offer comes close to what God has in store for those who choose to walk by faith and not by sight. We can say 'no' to sin and ungodliness and 'yes' to God because the best is still yet to be!

"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)


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"I'm Proud To Be A Christian"


"Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)"

Galatians 1:1

Most of us when we hear the word "pride" usually think of it in its negative use and not the positive. Usually, the word pride conjures up in our mind passages like James 4:6, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Studying in the book of Galatians verse 1 of chapter 1 the apostle Paul begins right out of the gate giving first his name and then his credentials, noting that he is an apostle. Some have read Paul's words as being prideful, in the negative sense, while many see them for what they truly are, an expression of 'holy pride' not 'sinful pride'.

It was Martin Luther, the father of the reformation who noted, "When I was a young man I thought Paul was making too much of his call. I did not understand his purpose. I did not then realize the importance of the ministry . . . We exalt our calling, not to gain glory among men, or money, or satisfaction, or favor, but because people need to be assured that the words we speak are the words of God. This is no sinful pride. It is holy pride."

Pride in its most negative manifestation is the sin of comparison in which we compare our strengths to the others weaknesses. Pride we have discovered is one of the most invisible sins common to mankind that doesn't require any effort on our part to obtain it, but it will take all of our energy to keep out. Yet in Galatians 6 we are taught there is such a thing good pride, pride that God has no problem with at all because it's the very opposite of negative pride that seeks to put others down to build ourselves up. 

Galatians 6:4 instructs us in this good kind of pride when the apostle Paul writes, "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." What makes good pride good is that the good kind of pride doesn't focus on being better than others, good pride focuses on being the best version of ourselves we can possibly be by the grace of God without any comparison to others. Instead of measuring ourselves by our fellow man, which is comparison, we are called of God to measure our success in this life by the standards established in the Word of God, by self examination. Then and only then do we have something to boast about.

Here is a humbling thought that keeps us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Even if we were the only human being on this planet, Jesus Christ would still have needed to die on Calvary's Cross to save us for the Bible makes clear, "for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God". That knowledge is good and helps those of us who can easily but subtly look down on others who are less spiritual (in our eyes based on our own standards) than we are, to remember again as our Bible teaches us, "there is none righteous, no not one". We all want to feel good about ourselves and one way we accomplish this is to look for the weaknesses in others, forgetting that pride is a sin of comparison where to build myself up I must compare my strengths to your weaknesses.

It was C.S. Lewis who once said, "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you." Growing up my dad would always remind me to keep seeking to improve because there is always someone else just a little bit better than you, he would say. He didn't say that to put me down, he said that to help me so that I wouldn't just focus on those who I thought were below me, but to keep in mind there is always someone better than me as well. To become the best version of ourselves we need to keep looking up and moving forward was my dad's hope for me then and my hope for you and me today too. 

What was true in sports then is true in our faith too. There is One who is not just better than us, He is perfect in every way, shape and form, the very standard by which our lives will be judged one day. Jesus Christ is the measuring stick by which we are to examine our lives so that we might have something to be proud of. 

The good news of the Gospel is each of us can have something in our lives to be proud of, something worth bragging about and that is this, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6 (NKJV). Yes, loved one, any good in us is comes by the way of Christ Jesus, and the good we do in this life is done as we allow Jesus to come into our lives as Savior and then to allow Him to flow from our lives as Lord as we draw close to Him. 

As my good friend Jason shared last night at our Men's weekly bible study, "love and obedience are intertwined." Measure your life by your love and devotion to Jesus, how closely you walk with Him, not by the walks of others. It's not what we have done that matters most in this life, its what Jesus has done and is doing still that is worthy of all praise.

The bottom line, it's not about me, nor is it about you, loved one. We don't measure crooked sticks by comparing them to other crooked sticks, we measure how straight a stick is by laying it next to one that is straight. Jesus is our measuring stick! I'm proud to be a Christian today not because of any thing I have ever done for Jesus, I am proud to be a Christian because of what Jesus Christ has done for me!

"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad."

Psalm 34:1-2 (NKJV)


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