What a joyous and comforting thought. Due to no deserving, choosing, disciplining ourselves we have no sin as far as our Father in heaven is concerned!
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
(Hebrews 9:26 ESV)
We know nothing of any sin for it was all laid on the back of Our Lord Christ. It cannot lay on both our backs. We need not fear the day of judgement for we are in Christ and we will hear “well my good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Master!” Matthew 25:21 Justified by faith apart from works of the law. Romans 3:28.
The objection appears from our flesh, the world and satan; “so this means you can do anything you want and God has to forgive it? That is cheap grace!” No it is not cheap grace it is free grace. If it came to us due to our work it would be a wage instead of grace. Yes we can do what we want. Now that you love Jesus and know what he gives you what is it you want to do? Considering this love and concern Jesus has for us we want to serve him by serving our neighbor and perfectly love him. However, God looks at us in Jesus so we actually do love him and serve our neighbor through all the simple tasks of life.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen †
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
Make no mistake, my friends, Satan has yet to give up on those who follow the Lord Jesus. In his fierce anger he is like the lion looking for food. Is this physical food like our lions eat? No, rather it is our faith in the Crucified and Risen Jesus. He seeks to rob us of the promise of forgiveness of sin, salvation and the forgiveness of sin.
No, Satan does not busy himself invading the body of a young girl and causing her to convulse and thrash about as in a Hollywood depiction. He is much more subtle, just as he was in Eden. He seeks to have us doubt God’s word for us and to have our mind wander after some really good stuff. Our Father is not against his children having good stuff but it becomes bad stuff when it takes us away from the things most needful.
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
(Matthew 4:10 ESV)
This is how our Lord Christ handled our adversary once for all, quoting the word of God to him the Word defeated him for us. This holy and complete rebuke and sending away is granted to us by faith. This is not something more to do but rather something in which to rejoice.
To live sober-minded and watchful contains participating in those means whereby God has promised to be located for our salvation. Scripture and prayer. These gifts are with us everyday. We need not wait until gathering in worship to hear the voice of Jesus. He is here each and everyday to proclaim to us repentance and forgiveness of sin. We also need not wait for special events in which to pray. No time to pray? Our Father…… only takes a few moments and is completely filled with all that we need. Participating in these activities will send Satan away and place all our good things in behind the best thing where they belong.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. †
“I don’t know. Something about you really ticks me off.”
This is a slightly adjusted line from a Mini series based on Stephen King’s writings. It is called Storm of The Century. This is the supposed answer, in the story, God gave Job for a reason all that awful stuff happened to him. God never informed him of why. We know a little more about it by the interaction between God and Satan but still do not understand the why.
God never tells us why either. Even if he were to inform us of the reasons we would not understand and most certainly not approve of them. This is due to the fact we still have an inner brat. Said brat never learns, never improves and will be dogging us all our life on this fallen world.
I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
(Psalm 119:75-76 ESV)
The offense happens when the sinner is told that their suffering is because God the Lord is angry. What is given to the sufferer is a Christ less presentation of the law. This law is given as an attempt at behavior management. Behavior management is good in business and the civil realm. In the realm of our life together before God it is devastating. We cannot teach the inner brat how to behave and have it work. The flesh will take that instruction, try to do it, and get all puffed up about it. The flesh will never learn, improve or go away while on this fallen world. The flesh is our natural distrust of Our Father and confusing him with one of many idols. He is a God beyond all our imaginings.
The difficulties brought into our lives are from the Lord. However, it is not from anger but rather from a loving Father. A loving Father will correct his children to guide them away from harm. That is what sin does. It consumes lives, drives loved ones from each other and will seek to lead us away from Jesus. Our Lord has placed his name on us. The way we know that is he had a minister apply water and the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit which shows us our adoption into God’s family. This way we do not have to see how life is going and how we are reacting in order to measure how God sees us. We are in Jesus and that is how we are seen by Our Father in Heaven.
In Jesus we are in God’s peace. Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †
“You are so heavenly minded you are no earthly good.”
This started in the liberal part of the Christian Church and took the form of social activism. We are indeed, as children of our Heavenly Father, concerned about the plight of our neighbors. We are to seek and help him in his well being out of service to him in the name of Jesus. If she needs aid in raising her children, and we can help, we prayerfully give it in the name of Jesus. But Jesus is not particularly needed to do this. Many people give aid that are not believers in Jesus. Thank God we have people that help out in time of need.
This phrase has since been adopted by the more conservative element of the Christian Church. The social activism takes the form of working toward becoming a success at all that we do. The guarantee is that if we do all the right things, work hard at our employment we will be a raging success. This as well can be done without Jesus as savior. A new reformation more about what we do than what we believe? A new reformation not about justification by faith? Bah!
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3 ESV)
What is offensive to those who believe in Jesus is to hide this promise. The Apostle John gives us one of the differences we have as believers in Jesus. Being heavenly minded is also being earthly good. The purify John speaks of is all throughout the epistle. Loving one another. Giving aid to those in need. And confessing and receiving forgiveness of sin. This is what life is like now for the children of God.
But there is more. Some day Jesus is returning in power and great glory. Although he is with us now, as he promised, we do not see him with our eyes. When he comes to judge the living and the dead we will finally behold him and be like him. No more sickness, sin or death. We had the name of God Father Son and Holy Spirit placed upon us at our baptism. A certainty that cannot be taken away regardless of success or failure in earths endeavors.
Trust this good news and live in the peace it gives. Amen. †
If you were to choose a king who would be your choice? In all the elections I can recall the candidates all promised;
1. everyone would have a house
2. a chicken in every pot in that house,
4. employment to which one was to be transported
5. little or no taxes or they will be paid by others.
Wow! Now those are fantastic promises. If he could carry them off what a wonderful king he would be.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
(Luke 1:30-33 ESV)
This is the King given to us by God. Of a scandalous birth to an unmarried girl. This King grew up not in a palace but in a regular family. This King, instead of leading an army into victorious battle, did battle with the devil and his servants. Not at all what one would want for a King.
To make it worse, This King was tried in a mock trial with lying witnesses. This King was severely beaten beyond any other man. And this King was nailed to the cross which was the only throne he had on this fallen world.
What Child is This?
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary.
Some of the unbelieving world does not mind the babe in the manger. There he is all safe and warm. And we are safe with him there. The above verse is skipped on secular broadcast on radio and in stores. From a marketing standpoint perhaps it is understandable. But sadly if and when this hymn is sung in many churches this part is left out or rewritten. What of a people who are embarrassed of what Our King did for the world? Is it a wonder this society is going down hill?
Take heart dear brothers and sisters. This King is Sovereign. This King has chosen to be located in the manger, on the cross and risen from the dead for you. He has determined his Gospel to never be silenced. This encourages us to repent and trust in his work for us on the cross and his resurrection. We can pray for his Church which is in such disarray that Christ grant her true repentance and forgiveness. And also pray for and encourage his pastors to boldly preach repentance and the forgiveness of sin in the name of King Jesus.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †
I recall after my daughter Amanda was born. Filled with concern any new father with a beautiful baby girl became my worry. We were blessed with a bright beautiful, happy, bright, sensitive and caring little girl who is still the apple of her daddy’s eye.
Shortly after her birth something happened to another daddy’s little girl. I do not remember her name for this was so many years ago. This little girl was taken from the home while playing in the backyard. She was found a few days later badly used and murdered. My heart was beyond breaking for this little girl’s parents.
The question always comes at times like those is why? Why did God allow this to go on? Does he not know or not care? Or is he unable or unwilling to help? Did he want this to happen? The last question is perhaps the most painful. The challenge for Christians is to try to answer these questions. Mistakenly thinking they have the answer the attempts are made.
Offensive answer number 1: This is a fallen world and bad things happen to good people. This is an attempt, it appears, to try to sound rational and bible believing at the same time. The offense is caused because it sound flippant and said to silence the weeping of the parent.
Offensive answer number 2: God is Sovereign and wants to use this to strengthen you for scripture says:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 ESV)
That answer looks even more scripture for we have a proof text! But placing that back into its near context it is addressing the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian and for the Christian. The offense here is again flippancy compounded by the fact this verse was never meant for such use.
(John 11:35 ESV)
This is the only response which is warranted. We do not seek to explain it to the sufferers. We do not seek to understand because we have no ability to understand the grief. The parents are weeping so the Christian also joins with them in weeping. Jesus knew he would raise his dead friend so why the sadness? He was doing the Jesus job fulfilling the love and care for a friend of which we are incapable. This demonstrates in his humanity and his Deity he is intimately involved with the suffering. He understands the sorrow he is not separated from it We are incapable of fully understanding the sadness another is experiencing due to our fallen condition. We are too self focused and cannot totally love our neighbor as ourselves. We just want to end our misery by trying to end the suffering person’s misery. We are not only incapable but unwilling for it is uncomfortable and unseemly to cry openly with a sufferer.
Jesus atoned for this inability and unwillingness on the cross. We are not held liable for this sin of not caring as we should. His resurrection secures for us justification which is given to us as a gift. Jesus’ resurrection is our focus point during all times of suffering. What a glorious promise we receive through faith.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †
As my lovely bride and myself keep collecting birthdays we get letters and brochures advertising final resting places and services. Our doctors, who keep getting younger and younger, want to address end of life related health issues. Was it not just a few years ago we graduated High School?
The Jews said to him, Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’
(John 8:52 ESV)
What an offensive remark! A keeper of the words of Jesus will never taste death? How preposterous can you be? Christians die everyday. Throughout history and even today some Christians die for no other reason than his or her confession.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
This is a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Christians do not have to die many times before death. We can face death with peace and confidence. The unbelieving world is not that way. Look at the money which is spent in order to stop the process of aging and dying. If one has no hope for anything beyond this life who can blame them?
But even this pales in the face of what Jesus meant.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:9 ESV)
What Jesus is referring is the fact that he did the death tasting for everyone. This dread need not seize anyone on account of his or her own mortality. It says of Jesus’ resurrection “oh death where is thy sting and grave where is thy victory?” The unbeliever rejects this great comfort in his or her own desire to not have the crucified and risen God. Rather the unbeliever will prefer to deny any existence of the true and living God or manufacture a more suitable god and look for ways to locate it and seek ways to serve it. The truth that Jesus did the tasting of death for everyone makes this dread all the more dreadful and hell all the hellish. It is so unnecessary!
Certainly a man will be concerned about his death and provision for his family. Or that his wife or child would precede him in death. This is love and of course we miss those who depart us and are concerned with their well being at all times. But as for himself he has no need to fear the grave any more than he fears his bed. Those in Christ can trust that his preceding us into death and the grave also means his resurrection is ours.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †
Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)
Here is another set of verses which have been misused to teach God’s predestination of sinners to being lost. At the surface we do see God sending delusion in order that people believe falsely. So with this conclusion it is no longer the sinner who is at fault but it is God who did not want that sinner. When one reads the entire passage these are people who did not believe the truth and pleasured in unrighteousness. Sinner is at fault as is always the case in scripture.
This false teaching can and has offended believers who are weak and sinful creatures. At times one can struggle, in what looks to be futility, with sin and doubt. This dreadful and non scriptural teaching teaching that God does not want certain people will take the sinners eyes off Jesus and on themselves for assurance. One maybe unable to know that Jesus even died for the under those circumstances. What a tragedy these offenses are for no other reason than to make it all sensible to the finite sinner’s logic and reason.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
(2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 ESV)
Again close context shows that through the activity of Satan and his power and false wonder will do the deceiving not Our Father. Those who are believing a lie and are dying in sin is at fault for refusing to love the truth and be saved. This casts the fault back on the lost sinner where it belongs.
We can with confidence behold our Jesus crucified for our sin and raised again for our justification. Scripture leaves no doubt whatsoever Jesus’ sacrifice is for us and for all people.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †