Show Mercy

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12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” — Matt. 9:12, 13 NLT

This statement by Jesus is in answer to the Pharisees who were complaining about Jesus and His disciples eating with sinners. Jesus had just called Matthew to come and follow Him.  Matthew had  invited Jesus and His disciples to his home to have dinner with him and some other tax collectors and disreputable sinners.  The Pharisees had referred to the group as scum (verse 11).
Jesus knew that the Pharisees would not accept Him and His teachings because they thought they were righteous already.  With whom do we spend our time outside the church building?  Do we, as the disciples of Jesus, spend all of our time with other Christians or do we seek the lost and minister to them?  Do we have a missionary mentality or is it “We four and no more”? Jesus was sent to seek and to save the lost.  Because He did that, He was rejected, offended, persecuted and eventually hung on a cross.  He commanded us to do the same and gave us the authority to do just that.  When we do that, we stand the chance of being rejected, offended and criticized for “eating with scum”?  Suffering these things puts us in the same group with Jesus and God is pleased with us.  Which is better, to live a lifestyle that pleases God and lay up eternal rewards or to live a lifestyle that pleases men gaining worldly rewards but losing our own souls?

20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 
— 1 Peter 2:20,21 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-25-2018

Focus On Jesus

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13 “With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home. — Exodus 15:13 NLT

God led the Israelis through the Red Sea and across the desert with the physical presence of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  It was possible for them to travel twenty-four hours a day without getting lost.  It must have been very reassuring to see the presence of the cloud and the fire and know that they were traveling in the exact direction God wanted to travel at all times. God did not lead them in a straight path from Egypt to Canaan. There were detours that avoided certain areas and dangers.  There were delays and a lot of murmuring and complaining.  We have a guide that is with us twenty-four hours a day as well.  He lives inside us.  But for us to know and understand His directions, we have to spend time talking with Him and meditating on His Word.  There will be detours in our lives as well.  All of those detours are allowed by God and are designed to teach us and to keep us safe from harm.  But just as the Israelis spent way too long in the desert because of their disobedience, some of our detours are caused by our mistakes and bad decisions.  Most of us will probably spend more time complaining than we do studying the Word.  Nevertheless, God is faithful and forgiving and just as He eventually got the Israelis to the Promised Land, He will guide us safely to His eternal, sacred home.  He has never failed and He never will.  Trust Him with all your heart, mind, soul and body.


1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. — Hebrews 12:1, 2a NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 09-24-2018

His Faith – Not Mine

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6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. — Eph. 2:6-9 NIV

This is a familiar passage to most Christians, yet I wonder if we really grasp everything it says to us.  It explains to us why God saved us and raised us up. It was not just for our benefit, though that would have been more than enough.  He did it so He could show to us and the world the “incomparable riches of His grace”.  The greatest expression of that grace was God allowing Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to die on a cruel cross for our sins. It is that grace that has saved us, through faith.  Not our faith, His faith, His gift to us. That is why we can be sure that our salvation is eternal.  Thanks be to God that my salvation is not based on my faith, which is not always steadfast. It is based on His faith, which is steadfast and eternal.  If it were based on my faith, I could be saved today and lost tomorrow.  His faith is everlasting!

89 Your word, Lord, is eternal;  it stands firm in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;  you established the earth, and it endures. — Psalm 119:89, 90

15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! — 2 Cor. 9:15

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 09-23-2018

Become Like A Child Again

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Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom from heaven, – Matt. 18:4 ISV
As adults, we can become like children in two different ways. We can make decisions based on our wants and feelings with no knowledge or concern of what the consequences might be. This happens when we want to  exercise control or when we make decisions that are based on what we want and not what is good for ourselves and others.  An example is not sharing with others as we should and becoming angry when we are asked to do so.  Another example is being disobedient. This is being “childish”.  The other way we can become like children is to live our lives with the innocence of childhood, accepting others without question, being humble and being obedient to parents and authority figures.  This happens when we base our decisions on knowledge and when we consider the outcome of our decisions.  An example of this is to do what is best for the family and/or those around us regardless of what our desires and wants may be.  The best example is that of Jesus and that is to love without conditions and without expecting anything in return. This is being “childlike” and that is the attitude that Jesus says we must have to enter the Kingdom of God. If we are childish, we seek to satisfy our wants and we seek the approval and praise of men.  If we are childlike, we humble ourselves before God, do His work and seek His approval.

 
17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. —- 1 John 3:17, 18 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-22-2018

To Be Forgiven, Forgive Others

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25  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. — Isaiah 43:25 NLT

God forgives us of our sins and chooses not to remember them or hold them against us.  No where in the Bible are we instructed to “forgive and forget”.  Like many sayings attributed to the Bible, this one is not in there.  While it is a beautiful expression and idea, I am not sure that humans are capable of forgetting those transgressions,  either the ones we have committed against God or those that have been committed against us.  While we may not be capable of forgetting, we are charged over and over with the responsibility of forgiving.  That we can do, because it is an act of the will, it is a decision that we make.  God has certainly told us that His forgiveness of our sins requires us to forgive others

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  — Eph. 4:32​

 
There are many other verses emphasizing the fact that we must forgive.  These verses also show us how our relationship with the Father is affected by a lack of forgiveness. (Matt. 6:15)  They also show us how a lack of forgiveness causes us to become bitter (Hebrews 12) and how un-forgiveness will cause us to lose our reward (2 John).
The “forgetting” part means that we should be so sure and certain about our decision to forgive that the transgression no longer affects our relationship with the person committing the act.  It is no longer a part of any discussion we have or any decision that we make.  It means that just as God has justified our standing with Him, we do the same for the transgressor.  It is as if we had “forgotten” or as if that incident had never happened. Notice in the passage from Isaiah that God said He would forgive them for His sake which indicates there are some good things that come to those who do the forgiving as well as to those who are forgiven.  So,  if for no other reason, we need to forgive for our own sake.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 09-21-2018

Gifts Are to be Used for God’s Glory

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11 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” — Exodus 4:11, 12 NLT

God has given each of us particular gifts and we use those gifts daily in our secular lives but when God asks us to use them for His work, we suddenly pretend we don’t have those abilities.  Take Moses, for instance, forty years earlier, Moses had no problem taking charge.  He killed an Egyptian who was beating a slave. The next day, he comes out and tells the slaves to quit fighting each other.  Those are characteristics of a leader. But, now after forty years of desert training, when God wants Him to use those same talents to free His people and lead them through the desert, Moses suddenly can’t.  If  you think God was happy with Moses, you are wrong.  In fact, He met Moses and was about to kill him and would have except for the actions of Zipporah.(Exodus 4:24-26)


In today’s world, think about the effectiveness of the church if:
Every school teacher volunteered to teach Sunday School
Every CEO or business leader volunteered for a leadership/mentoring position
Everyone who served others in any position served in the church
Whatever talent you have, you used that talent in the church

Just think about this:  The Creator of the universe, the Omniscient God would not ask us to do a job that He has not specifically given us the talent and the training to do.  If God knew someone else could do the job better than we could, then He would have called them instead of us!  The next time we feel that little nudge to volunteer, before we say “no”,  think about the results in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30).

 
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ​ — Eph. 2:10 NLT​
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-20-2018

He’s Coming Back!

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24 God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. — Exodus 2:24, 25

God never forgets a promise.  He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would one day free the people from Egypt and that time had now come. He had listened to the groaning of His people long enough.  God never fails to deliver on a promise, but He has His own timetable to do so.  He used Moses to fulfill this promise.  If God has made a specific promise to us, individually, He will fulfill it but it may very well be after we have gone through a period of groaning and travail. He has made a specific promise to all of His children.  The first part of that promise was fulfilled when He came in the flesh to redeem us from sin and free us from our bondage to satan.  We and all of nature are now in a period of groaning, waiting for His return to take us out of Egypt (the world).  When He does come back, we will fly away with Him to our Promised Land. A land flowing with living waters and filled with the light of the Son.  No more groaning, no more sorrows, no more pain, a land where the lamb will lay down by the lion.


22 If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come! — 1 Cor. 16:22 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-19-2018