More on Bridging the Generation Gap

talk-to-old-people

The term “generation gap” refers to differences between generations that cause conflict and complicate communication, creating a “gap.” Sometimes the differences between generations become major differences, differences that pull us away from each other, differences that cause us to be distrustful of each other. The generation gap even exists in the church. But is this something new? Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 says: “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, ‘Here is something new!’ But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.” So, the answer to the question is, no, the generation gap is nothing new. It has existed for as long as man has existed.

So, here’s another question. What does God think about generations? Does age matter to God? Does God consider one generation better than another? Scripture makes it clear that the answer to that question is “no.” God looks at young and old through the same eyes. He looks at each generation as being the same as any other. He places equal importance on each generation. In Joel 2:28 (NLT), which was echoed in the book of Acts, God said, “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” God didn’t say I will pour out my Spirit on Baby Boomers. He didn’t say that only Millennials will dream dreams and see visions.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” God doesn’t see us as the Silent Generation. He doesn’t see us as Baby Boomers, as Gen Xers, or as Millennials. God sees us as one chosen generation.

In his letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 1 to 7, Paul tells us that, as members of the body of Christ, we are called to be humble, to encourage and comfort one another, to be in fellowship with one another, relating to each other with hearts that are tender and compassionate. We are called to be in agreement with each other, to love one another, and to work together in unity, with one mind and one purpose. We must not think of ourselves, or of our generations, as being better than others. And we need to take an interest in the interests of other people, of other generations.

So, as the church, how do we bridge the generation gap? First, we can recognize that each generation has differences. These differences are influenced by the times and by the culture in which we grow up. They also reflect our own personal preferences. Next, we need to accept those differences. In fact, we should even celebrate them as they make us each who we are. And finally, we need to remind ourselves that, although our age and cultural differences may not change, there is one important thing that we have in common, the thing that we need to hold onto in order to bridge the gap—our love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We must share that love with each other and share what God has done in our lives, in our generations. Our greatest tool in building the bridge across the generation gap is communication!

Psalm 145:4 says that one generation should declare and praise God’s works to the next generation. Each generation should pass on its knowledge of God and all He has done in their lives to the next. I love the way this verse is translated in the NASB: “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” I see this as each generation sharing with other generations all that God has done. Baby Boomers can tell Millennials what God has done in their lives. Millennials can tell the Silent Generation what God has done in their lives. We can all learn from and be encouraged by each other, regardless of generations.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Bridging the Gap

bridginggenerationgap

In November of 2017, it became clear to me that we had a generation gap at my church. God put it on my heart to do something to help to bridge the gap between generations. At that time, I had an idea for trying to accomplish this, but heard the Holy Spirit telling me “not now.” And so, I waited and prayed until I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to create the event that we called Bridging the Gap, which took place on November 10, 2018. Although in the flesh, I had concerns about whether it would work and whether I could plan an event that would accomplish what was intended, I trusted that God would direct me and just put my trust in Him. My trust and obedience to following the prompt were rewarded in ways I could never have imagined.

As I reflect on the planning and the actual event, I can see that God’s hand was all over it. When I reached out to people in the older generations, they were enthusiastic about the idea of an event where they could get to know brothers and sisters in Christ in the younger generations. When I reached out to the younger generation, I was totally blessed by their excitement about the opportunity to sit down with older generations and get to know them as well. My concerns were beginning to slip away. But, on the day of the event, I was totally blown away by the way in which God orchestrated everything, starting with the timing of the event.

One of my younger brothers in Christ, Jonathan Thorne, came up to me at the event and asked if I had chosen that date deliberately or if it was God. I didn’t understand his question until he pointed out that the day of the event fell in between the weeks when, as part of the series THIS IS US, we, as a church, were looking at the values of “We Row Together” and “We Want Heaven Here.” My answer to Jonathan was, “It was God!” I picked the date before knowing that it would fall at that point in that series. But God knew! He was showing us that, as members of various generations, we need to work together, to be united as one in Christ. We need to “row” together. And, just as Evangel reflects the diversity of heaven in our diversity of race, ethnicity, languages, and cultures, we also reflect a wonderful diversity in generations.

The event was an amazing time of fellowship. Young and old worshiped together, shared a meal together, and then talked, learning a little more about each other than they knew before. The conversations at the tables were beautiful and, from the reactions I have heard from some of those who attended, I would say that some walls came down and the generation gap has narrowed considerably. One of the activities that I planned for that day was a generation personality quiz. It was something that I found on the internet that I thought would be fun to use at the event. The idea behind the quiz was that by answering the ten questions asked, you would find what generation your personality says you belong to. When we all took the quiz and shared the results, we had a laugh as we saw that most of us came out as traditionalists or baby boomers. But I realized later that God had used what was intended to be just for fun to show us that, because of our faith in Christ, we are not so different from each other, despite the generations that we belong to based on our date of birth.

I heard from those who participated that day a desire to continue the dialogue that has begun, to continue to work at bridging that gap. As I shared that day, Isaiah 58:12 in the ESV says, “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” I believe that we can apply that verse to the generation gap and that, as we continue to work on bridging that gap, we will be known as repairers of the breach.

God is moving in the generations at our church. A work has begun that we need to continue.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Nothing Is Impossible

Possible

Have you ever faced a problem that was seemingly impossible to overcome? Maybe you have agonized over it day and night. Maybe it has cost you sleepless nights. Maybe it has caused you to sink into a pit of depression, caused you to avoid the company of others, or maybe it has even taken away your desire to live. There are times in our lives when, in our own limited human strength, we cannot overcome the problems, trials, and difficulties that we face. It’s at those times that we want to give up, to just throw in the towel. And it’s precisely at those times that we need to turn to God.

In Jeremiah 32:27, God tells us that He is Lord, He is the God of all the people of this world. And then He asks the question: “Is there anything too hard for Me?” God is the God of the possible. There is nothing impossible for Him, no problem or situation that is too difficult for Him to deal with. To ask if God can deal with our problems is to put God in a box. But God has proven time and again that He cannot be put in a box. There is nothing too hard for Him.

In six days, He created the world as we know it. When Abraham and Sarah were old, He gave them a child. When the Israelites were trapped between a rock and a hard place, between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army, He parted the Red Sea so they could cross it. God’s mighty hand caused the walls of Jericho to fall down flat so that Joshua and the army of Israel could take that city. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in the fiery furnace for their devotion to God, He kept them from being consumed by the flames. And when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den for refusing to worship King Darius, God shut the mouths of the lions.

Nothing is impossible with God. In Matthew 19:19-26, we read about a rich young man who sadly walked away when Jesus told him that he should sell all his possessions and follow Jesus to receive eternal life. After the young man left, Jesus told His disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In other words, it was impossible. Understanding this to be the case, the disciples asked, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With people, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Sin made it impossible for us to have eternal life. But, as Jesus points out, while this may be impossible for people to accomplish, with God it is quite possible. Through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, God has provided the way for all who repent and believe to receive atonement for their sins and to receive eternal life. God made the impossible possible. And that same God who did all of these things is the God who can help you to walk through any “impossible” situation in your life.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Handling Disagreements in the Church

Cuntry Church and Cemetery

Jesus’ prayer for us as believers is that we should be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21). It was Jesus’ desire that unity would exist in the body of Christ. Yet believers often allow disagreements over traditions or church doctrines to stand in the way of that unity and to divide them. And this is not confined to division between believers of different denominations. Disagreements can cause division to happen even between believers of the same church body. Disagreements can be over styles of music, preaching styles, or changes in the format of the Sunday service. Often such disagreements are what cause churches to split. When disagreements arise and threaten division, we would do well to look to the example of the early church.

Acts 6:1 tells us that at a time when the church was increasing in number, a disagreement arose between Hellenistic (Greek-speaking) believers and Hebraic (Aramaic-speaking) believers over the distribution of food to widows. Specifically, the Hellenistic believers complained that their widows were being overlooked. The issue was creating division and threatening the unity of the church. When problems such as this arise, church leaders are faced with a choice. They can either continue with the status quo (“Hey, our numbers are increasing so why change anything?”) or they can look at the problem as an opportunity to look at the way ministry is being done and make any changes that may be needed. In the case of the early church, the church leaders, the Apostles, chose the latter.

First, they admitted there was a problem. They gathered the disciples together and came to the conclusion that the problem existed because they were trying to do it all. They were trying to deal with the secondary tasks such as the distribution of food while at the same time attending to their primary tasks, prayer and the teaching of the Word. They came to the realization that their primary tasks were being neglected as they focused on the secondary tasks (Acts 6:2). In other words, they had their priorities wrong. But while they knew that the teaching of the Word and prayer should be their first priority, the Apostles also knew and acknowledged that the secondary tasks also were important. To their credit, the Apostles were not afraid to share their authority and their ministry with others. So the next thing that the Apostles did was to suggest a solution.

The Apostles asked the disciples to select from among themselves seven men who would take over the responsibility of serving the body in secondary tasks such as the distribution of food. But, as they pointed out, these men should not be just any men. They should not be chosen because of their popularity but because they were men of good reputation. And by good reputation, the Apostles meant that these seven men should be full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. They would then turn over the responsibility for things like the distribution of food to these seven men, so that the Apostles could give their attention to praying and teaching the Word (Acts 6:3-4).

The Apostles’ proposal was embraced by all with open arms. Seven men were chosen who held the qualifications stipulated by the Apostles. These men were presented to the Apostles, who laid hands on them and prayed for them, commissioning them to do this important work (Acts 6:5-6). The result was that the disagreement did not cause what would have been the very first church split, but instead, unity prevailed. What a lesson this is for the church today. When disagreements arise, we need to first acknowledge the problem and determine the cause. Then we need to prayerfully seek a solution to the problem, talk about it, and put it into place.

There was another benefit to the way the early church handled their disagreement. The Word of God spread, and the number of disciples increased. In fact, even a large number of Jewish priests came to Christ as a result of the way the early church dealt with what the enemy intended for harm (Acts 6:7). When we, as the church today, handle our own disagreements the way the early church did, those outside the church will take notice, seeds will be planted, and a harvest will be reaped.

Hearing God’s Voice

Listen

In 2010, a teacher in Northern Ireland named Annalisa Flanagan set the world’s record for the loudest shout ever recorded. Her shout registered 121 decibels. That’s ear-piercing! The normal human speaking voice averages about 70 decibels, while the average shout comes in at about 88 decibels. At those levels, most of us would have no trouble hearing the voice of the person speaking or shouting. But what about the voice of God. How loud is His voice?

Psalm 29 gives us a picture of what God’s voice sounds like. In the New Living Translation, this psalm tells us that God’s voice echoes above the sea. In fact, it thunders over the sea (v. 3). God’s voice is powerful and majestic (v. 4) and is able to split the mighty cedar trees of Lebanon (v. 5). At the sound of God’s voice, mountains skip and leap (v. 6). His voice strikes with bolts of lightning and can make the wilderness shake (v. 7-8). Mighty oaks twist when God speaks and forests are laid bare. The story of creation in Genesis 1 tells us that God used His voice to create the heavens, the earth, and all living things. God’s voice is powerful. So, why do we sometimes have such difficulty hearing it?

Think about it. A voice that is louder than the seas, that can split and knock down trees, cause mountains to jump, and lay bare the wilderness has got to be a voice that you couldn’t possibly miss. In Scripture, God’s voice is often described as thunder. Unless you’ve lived in a soundproof booth all your life, you know that thunder is quite loud. In fact, thunder usually ranges between 120 and 135 decibels. That compares to the sound of an ambulance siren or to someone shouting in your ear. So if God has a voice like thunder, why do we sometimes have such difficulty hearing it?

In 1 Kings 19:11-12, Elijah waited on the Lord at Mount Horeb. As he stood there, a wind blew that was strong enough to break rocks. But Elijah did not find God in the wind. After the wind died down, an earthquake shook and a fire raged, but Elijah did not find God in them either. But following the fire, there was a gentle blowing sound. In the King James Version, it refers to the sound as a still small voice. And it was in this quiet sound, this gentle whisper, that Elijah found God. In Psalm 46:10, God tells us to be still and know that He is God. In Isaiah 55:3, He tells us to incline our ears and listen to Him. So, although God has a voice like thunder, He speaks to us in a whisper, in a still small voice. Why? Because He wants us to give our full attention to His voice.

The average person’s whisper registers 20 decibels, well below the decibel range of a normal speaking voice. When someone whispers something to us, we need to lean in, we need to get close to that person in order to hear. That’s why God speaks to us in whispers. He wants us to lean into Him. Our heavenly Father wants us to draw close to Him just as an earthly father wants his children to draw close. God speaks to us in whispers. He speaks to us through promptings in our hearts. But, if we are to hear Him, to hear His voice, we need to give Him our full attention. We need to push aside all of the other voices that clamor for our attention and incline our ears to Him and listen.

Psalm 3

david's flight

In 2 Samuel 15, we read the story of David fleeing from his son, Absalom, who has taken over the throne. Knowing that his son sought to kill him, David fled with his attendants, crossed the Jordan River, and camped at Mahanaim. Absalom was a handsome, smooth-talking person who knew how to please the people of Israel and steal their hearts. Because of Absalom’s lies, the people had turned against David, and so the numbers of his enemies had increased. The times were very dark for David, and it was in this dark time that David wrote Psalm 3.

Psalm 3 begins with David crying out to the Lord about how great the number of his enemies had become (v. 1). He pointed out that many of the people were saying that David was beyond help (v. 2). They did not believe that God would save David, would not deliver him from his enemies or from the dire situation he was facing. But David knew the God he served. He knew that God was his refuge, his strength, and his very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). So, in verse 3, David praised God for the fact that God was a shield about him, that God was his glory and it was God who would lift David’s head high, despite the circumstances. Knowing this about his God, David called out to God with the confidence that God would answer (v. 4).

When we are in dark times in our lives, when our circumstances seem hopeless, we should take our cue from David and remember that God is our shield. He covers us with His glory and will lift our heads high above our circumstances when we cry out to Him.

In verse 5, David says something that, from a worldly point of view, makes no sense. Despite that fact that his enemies had increased, despite the fact that his very life was in danger, David says that he laid down and slept. He woke the next morning and had no fear, despite the fact that tens of thousands of people had set themselves against him (v. 6). Why was David able to sleep? Why did he have no fear? Because the Lord, His God, sustained him (v. 5). God gave David the rest that he needed and helped him to see past his circumstances. David knew that God was with him and that God would give him the victory. And so, David slept, just as Peter slept when he was in prison (Acts 12).

When we place our trust in God and seek to do His will, God will give us rest from the things that cause us to be wearied. In Matthew 11:28 (NLT), Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Just as David was confident in God’s ability to sustain him through his trials, so we can be confident as well.

In verses 6 and 7, David asks the Lord to save him. He points out that victory comes from God. David knew that his salvation was from the Lord, and so he had faith that God would go before him and defeat the army of Absalom. And that’s just what God did (2 Samuel 18). When we are facing trials, when darkness seems to surround us and the enemy of our souls is telling us that we are beyond help, that God will not save us, we need to be like David and have faith that God will come through for us. We need to praise God for the victory that we know will come.

God is our shield, He sustains us, and He will save us when we cry out to Him and trust in Him.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Love Your Enemies

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The past few days, the news has been filled with stories of pipe bombs being sent through the mail to certain individuals and organizations. But as disturbing as those stories are, what is even more disturbing is the way they have divided people. Hate talk has been rampant on both sides of every issue these days, and we have become more and more divided as a nation. As I read my devotions and Bible verses this morning, one passage of Scripture stood out to me. It’s from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 6, verses 27 and 28, and the words are the words of Jesus. Here is how that passage reads in the New Living Translation:

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”

If ever there was a time we needed to heed those words, it’s now! Jesus taught that we should love one another (John 13:34). We should love our neighbors, and we should love (and not hate) our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). Those of us who are followers of Christ should be the first to set the example by following this. There is nothing wrong with having a difference of opinion. Even within the church, we have differences of opinion. But we should not allow those differences to result in bitterness towards others. We must not allow them to result in saying or doing hurtful things to others. We must not allow them to bring us to hate.

God is love. He loves us and, if we are followers of Christ, we must reflect the love that God shows us. In fact, we cannot truly be followers of Christ, we cannot say that we know God, if we have hate in our hearts toward others (1 John 4:7-8). The church needs to be an example to the world. We need to reflect the light of Jesus in a world that is growing ever darker. And so, we must love not only our neighbors, not only our families and friends, but also our enemies and those we dislike. Let’s set the example and shine His light in our world and in our nation (Matthew 5:16).

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Who Moved?

Who Moved_

Have you ever felt far away from someone? Perhaps from a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or a child? When we feel far away from someone in our lives, we can be in the same room and yet the distance is as great as if we were standing on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon. When that happens, it’s usually because one or the other person in the relationship is not there emotionally or mentally. In other words, someone moved.

This same thing can happen in our relationship with God. There may be times when we feel that God is far away, that He’s not with us. This can be especially true when it comes to times of trial, difficult times in our lives where we are facing sickness, hurts, or financial problems. During these times, we may ask, “God, where are you? Why have you abandoned me when I need you most?” This is exactly what David felt when he asked: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.” (Psalm 22:1–2, NLT)

But there’s a better question to ask when we feel far away from God, when it seems that He has abandoned us. The question we need to ask is, who moved?

When Paul was ministering in Athens, he found an altar that bore the inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” The people of Athens were basically saying that there could be a god that they were unaware of. Paul used that opportunity to introduce them to the one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth. As he spoke to the men of Athens, Paul explained that God created man so that, if any of us should seek God, they would find Him. Why? Because, as Paul said, God is not far from any of us (Acts 17:22-27).

So, again, here’s the question. If we feel that God is far away from us, who moved?

In Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NASB), God says, “‘Am I a God who is near,’ declares the LORD, ‘And not a God far off?’ ‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the LORD.” In this passage of Scripture, God Himself is pointing to the fact that he is an omnipresent God. No matter where we go, He is there.

So, again, we have the question. If we feel that God is far away, who moved?

The answer, of course, is that God did not move away from us. When we are in those times of trial, those difficult times in our lives when we believe that God is far away, we need to remember that He is only far away because we moved away from Him. And what we need to do at those times is move towards God. As it says in James 4:8, if we draw near to God, then we can be sure that He will draw near to us. We need to examine our hearts and see what has caused us to move away from God. Was it pride? Was it doubt? Was it some unconfessed sin? We must then confess that sin, or ask God to help us with our doubt. And then we need to draw near to Him. He’s always there waiting for us.

Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

How To Avoid Sin

NO SIN

How can we avoid sin? What is the secret for living lives that are pure and walking in righteousness? The short answer is by truly knowing God. The long answer? By seeking the Lord with all our hearts, treasuring His Word, and walking in His ways. Let’s break that down.

In order to truly know God, we must seek Him with all of our hearts. The heart that seeks God sees God in every aspect of life. It sees God in nature, it sees God in others, it sees God in every moment of every day. The heart that seeks God will seek to fellowship with God, to learn more about Him, and to give Him glory through every word and every action. When we have that kind of heart, a heart that seeks after God, then our feet will not stray from Him but rather will walk according to His commandments (Psalm 119:10).

In order to know God, we must know His Word and meditate on it (Psalm 119:15). God has revealed Himself, His ways, and His character through His Word. But it is not enough just to read His Word. We must digest the Word, allow it to take root in our hearts. We must meditate on God’s Word, allowing it to go from our eyes to our minds and from our minds to our hearts. We need to treasure His Word in our hearts. As it says in Psalm 119:11, when we treasure God’s Word in our hearts, we will not sin against Him.

In order to know God, we must walk in His ways. We must not walk in accordance with our own earthly ways. Instead, we must trust in the Lord, acknowledge Him in all that we do. God’s Word promises that when we let go of our own ways to follow His ways, then He will direct our paths (Psalm 3:5-6). Through the power of His Holy Spirit, God will help us to walk in His ways. Psalm 119:9 tells us that when we keep our ways in accordance with God’s ways, then our ways will be pure. And a pure heart is one that will more easily avoid sin.

Free Gift

free gift

Free gift with purchase – a $9.95 Value! In an effort to entice you to buy one of their products, some product manufacturers will offer you a free gift. The gift, which they will often tell you the value of, is yours free, as long as you spend money to purchase one of their products. The free gift is offered to get you to part with your hard-earned cash to buy something that you probably had no intention of buying to begin with. But, hey! You got something free in the bargain! Never mind that it cost you $59.95 to get that gift worth $9.95.

In the world, free gifts often come at a price. But in the kingdom of God, there is a gift that truly is free to all. That gift is the gift of eternal life. Romans 6:23b (NLT) tells us that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The free gift of eternal life doesn’t cost us anything. That’s because the price of this gift was paid by someone else. The cost of this gift was paid by Jesus Christ. And the cost was high. Because of sin, eternal life was not something that we could attain on our own. The price had to be paid, and the price was death (Romans 6:23a). Jesus paid that price for us. He gave His life so that we could receive freedom from the penalty of sin and have eternal life. Jesus paid the price so that we could receive this free gift from God.

So, what’s the catch? There must be something in the small print. There must be strings attached, some hidden cost. Ephesians 2:8 (NLT) says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” To receive the gift of eternal life, all that is required of us is faith. We must believe that Jesus came to the world and died for our sins, we must turn from those sins, and choose to follow His ways. That’s all there is to it. Because of God’s grace, our faith in Jesus Christ is what we need to secure the free gift of eternal life. And, considering the alternative, the fact that the cost of sin is death, that’s quite a bargain!

What is Truth?

Image result for what is truth?

What is truth? Truth is sometimes defined as a fact or belief that is accepted as true. When you consider that definition, truth can actually be considered subjective. What’s true for you may not be true for me. What’s true for one country may not be true for another country. And because truth, as we define it, is so subjective, it can lead to disputes and even wars as one person or country seeks to defend its truth against that of another. So, if truth is subjective, is there an absolute truth? So again, we have the question. What is truth?

Pontius Pilate asked that same question when Jesus stood before him, having been brought to the Roman governor by the Sanhedrin to be tried and, ultimately, put to death. In John 18:37 (NLT), Pilate had asked Jesus if He was a king, to which Jesus replied, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” Pilate responded by asking, “What is truth?”

The fact that Pilate did not wait for an answer probably indicates that he did not believe it was possible to know the truth. He likely believed that truth was a matter of opinion, something that can’t be proven. He certainly did not recognize the fact that the truth was standing right in front of him. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:14) and, since God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18), all of God’s Word is true (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). Jesus Himself tells us that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and it is only through Him that we can come to the Father (John 14:6).

Ever since the fall of man and the introduction of sin into the world, the world has had a distorted view of truth. But God sent Jesus into the world to pay the price for our sin. When we come to Jesus, when we believe in who He is, what He did for us, and we turn from our sin to follow Him, we will know that Jesus is the truth, and the truth that is Jesus is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32). Jesus was able to pay the price because He is without sin. After asking Jesus what truth is, Pilate went out and spoke to the crowd, declaring that he found no guilt in Jesus. In other words, Jesus was innocent. In declaring that, Pilate was speaking the truth.

If you are looking for the truth, look no further than the Word of God, the absolute truth.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

What’s Your Excuse?

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To all who read my blog: 

Today’s post is my 500th post! I can’t believe I have written that many posts, and I know that it is only because of God’s grace that I have been able to do so. I began this blog in 2016 because I believed that God was calling me to put in writing the things He inspires in me. I hope that these writings have blessed you as much as I have been blessed in writing them. I thank God for His inspiration, and I thank you for reading what I write.

Blessings!
Roy

As a toddler of only 19 months old, Helen Keller suffered from an illness which left her deaf and blind. Yet, not only did she become an author, political activist, and lecturer, but she also became the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Abraham Lincoln, born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky and largely self-taught, became a lawyer in the state of Illinois and later went on to become perhaps one of the greatest, if not the greatest, presidents of the United States. In 1967, Jim Abbott was born without a right hand. Despite that handicap, he went on to become a major league pitcher who played major league baseball for ten years and is now a motivational speaker.

These are just some examples of people who overcame odds in order to accomplish great things in their lives, people who did not make excuses for their shortcomings but rather worked through them to do the things that they have become famous for. It would have been very easy for Helen Keller to say, “I can’t do these things. I am deaf and blind.” Or for Lincoln to say he wasn’t educated enough to become a lawyer, let alone an American president. Or for Jim Abbott to say, “I can’t play baseball. Look, I only have one hand!” But none of these people used their physical or educational shortcomings as an excuse.

Have you ever felt you weren’t good enough, well-educated enough, or young (or old) enough to do something? Moses did! In Exodus 3:10, God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh in order to bring God’s people out of their slavery in Egypt. Moses responded with excuses: “But, God, who am I to do this? I’m not good enough (Exodus 3:11).” “I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what to say if they ask me who you are (Exodus 3:13).” “No one will believe me (Exodus 4:1).” “I’m a terrible speaker (Exodus 4:10)!” Moses did not believe that he was the right person for the job. He didn’t believe he could pull it off. And so, he kept making excuses.

But despite the excuses, God used Moses. Despite Moses’ shortcomings, God used him to go to Pharaoh and to lead God’s people out of the land of Egypt. And Moses became one of the greatest leaders in the Bible. But it was not because Moses was qualified to do those things on his own. It was because his qualification came from God.  Moses was called by God to lead His people out of Egypt. And just as Moses was called to the mission God was giving him, we are called to be ministers of God’s covenant, the promise of salvation through His Son, Jesus. We are called to spread the Good News of Christ to others.

Now, we may believe we are not qualified to fulfill this call. Like Moses, we may make excuses. “I’m not good enough!” “I don’t have the education I need for that!” “I wouldn’t know what to say.” It’s true, on our own, we are not qualified. In the NLT, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6a says, “It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant.” None of us is truly qualified to spread the Good News on our own. As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:5, that qualification comes from God. Through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, God gives us all that we need to fulfill His calling (Philippians 4:13; Acts 1:8). So, here’s a question: what’s your excuse?

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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