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January 19, 2021 – Do You See God’s Grace?

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 3, Matthew 19, Isaiah 19, Job 19, Joshua 19, Genesis 19

Most preachers like to use the Genesis 19 account of Sodom and Gomorrah as a story of judgment and destruction.  They love to use the account to denounce homosexuality and sexual immorality.  Of course, their design is to get you to repent out of fear of a judgemental God.

However, there is another message to Sodom and Gomorrah’s story if you take the time to look.

When we dig deeper, we see God’s grace towards those of us who are struggling to live in a sin-filled world.  Lot struggles to keep his family from being overcome by the sin and depravity of the society around him.  He’s sitting in the town square waiting to rescue unsuspecting visitors to the town.  Verse 9 shows that he’s been living as an outcast from the community. 

We face the same struggle today.  We struggle to keep our families Christian.  We fight off the ills that society brings each day.  Living for Christ is hard when the world is pouring so much hate and anger over the top of our heads that we feel as if we are drowning.

That’s where Lot is when we meet him again.  

Yet God leads Lot out of the town.  When Lot hesitates, God, in His mercy, pulls him out of the town.  God provides him a safe place to run.  

Sadly, no matter how hard we try, some will turn back towards the world.  People won’t be able to resist.  Lot’s wife was one of the people who will fall into that trap.  That’s why it’s so important to continually talk about things of the spirit.  To keep working on leading others to Christ.  

Sodom and Gomorrah’s story is really the story about God’s grace towards Lot and his family.  It’s a rescue mission. 

The same rescue mission that Jesus would come to the earth to fulfill several hundred years in the future.

January 18, 2021 – What Will God Find?

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 2, Matthew 18, Isaiah 18, Job 18, Joshua 18, Genesis 18

In Genesis 18, we see the three visitors talking with Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah.  Preachers have long used these two cities to exemplify immorality and evil.  Indeed all kinds of evil were present in the cities.  

Yet Abraham pleads for the lives of those in the city.  He bargains with God over a place where evil is running rampant.  Abraham gives us an example of a faithful prayer warrior.  Regardless of the evil in the city, Abraham never gives up.   The funny thing is, Jesus honors that prayer.  Jesus promises to save the city if only he can just find ten righteous people.

Sadly, we all know the end of the story.  Only Lot and his daughters escape.  

So let me ask you this question.  If Jesus returned to earth today, what would he find?

Would he find people who care for the poor or people who care only about obtaining possessions?

Would he find people loving their neighbors, or would he find people walking past those in need?

Would he find a unified Church serving God, or would he see a divided Church pointing fingers at one another?

Would he find people seeking a relationship with Jesus, or would he find people ignoring him?

Would he find true justice in our courts or, would he find the best legal system money can buy?

I could go on and on.

What should we do?  We should be like Abraham.  We should be praying for our nation and our world.  We should be giving encouragement and help to those in need.  We should be speaking out against injustice and demanding reform of our politics and courts.  Most of all, we should be seeking God’s mercy for all humanity.

What will he find when you meet him?

January 17, 2021 – Knowledge vs. Wisdom

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 1, Matthew 17, Isaiah 17, Job 17, Joshua 17, Genesis 17

In 1 Corinthians 1 vs. 18-25, Paul shows us the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom.

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” NIV

Our society has propagated the myth that the accumulation of knowledge is what ensures a lifetime of success.  Human Resource departments will generally favor candidates with more degrees.  Somehow, we’ve equated MBA’s and Ph.D.’s with success.

Yet the more knowledge we accumulate, the less wisdom we seem to have.

If knowledge is the accumulation of information, then wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge beneficially.

When it comes to faith, this is vitally important.  Most people possess the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is.  They’ve accumulated that knowledge by hearing about Christmas and Easter; they may have grown up in the church or have Christian friends.  

Unfortunately, while they may have the knowledge of who Christ is, they do not possess the wisdom to follow him.  They can’t transfer that head knowledge to heart knowledge.  

Many believe that by attending church, they are naturally saved.  Yet, they fail to possess the saving grace of Christ because they refuse to turn their lives over to Christ.  They refuse to accept the fact that they are a sinner in need of a savior.  They stumble at the message of the Cross.

Our life in Christ is not an accumulation of knowledge and facts.  It is growing closer to the savior who gave his life for us.  It is a real intimate relationship with the one who loves us so much that he gave himself up for us.

Sadly, it’s the message that’s missed by so many!

January 16, 2021 – Gaining Heaven

What I Read Today;

Romans 16, Matthew 16, Isaiah 16, Job 16, Joshua 16, Genesis 16

How does the world define success?  Money, power, career success, and possessions always top the list that the world looks at when determining success or failure.

Many have achieved this success.  I live in the United States.  The most prosperous nation on the planet earth.  Yet, we seem unhappier than ever before.  Why is it that people are angrier and emptier today than ever before?  Indeed we have become the Prozac nation.  Depression and anxiety rule our lives like never before.  We’ve even allowed this anxiety to spread to our children.  

Maybe our searching for all the good things that life brings has left us empty because there is a part of our soul that needs someone else.  

God created us as spiritual beings.  Jesus is reminding us of that in Matthew 16:24-27.  While possessions and career success are not in and of themselves bad things, they are meaningless without God.

Jesus is warning his disciples and you and me that our possessions will be gone one day, our careers will end, and our money will go to someone else.  At that moment, the only thing that will matter is our relationship with Christ.  

When Jesus tells us to take up our cross, he’s telling us to follow him.  He’s telling us to put him first and accept him as savior. 

January 15, 2021 – How to treat people the right way!

What I Read Today;

Romans 15, Matthew 15, Isaiah 15, Job 15, Joshua 15, Genesis 15

Paul gives us a roadmap for how to treat others around us.  Why would he need to do this?  Well, if you have been watching the news this past year, I think that should be obvious.  We live in an age when we do not treat each other well, especially if we don’t agree with those people politically or spiritually.

So here’s Paul’s instructions in Romans 15, vs. 1-9:

Vs. 1 – “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” NIV

  • Bearing with the weaker among us is tough for us.  People proudly proclaim, “I don’t suffer fools well,” like it’s a badge of honor.  We like to point out the failings of others.  We do this to make ourselves look better.  Putting up with the weaknesses of our neighbors is not something we would do to please ourselves.  Our instinct is quite the opposite.

Vs. 2 – “Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.” NIV

  • We must learn to override our instincts and learn to build our neighbor up.  Yes, this can be extremely difficult.  However, the only way to true peace in our world is when we begin looking through our neighbors’ eyes and work for our neighbor’s betterment.

Vs. 3 – “For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

  • Christ himself set the example for us.  His humiliation and sacrifice show us the way that we should live our lives.  Giving up our rights and caring for those around us.

Vs. 4 – “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” NIV

  • The only way we can put others before ourselves is to continually reinforce God’s will for our lives by reading and studying God’s word.  By remaining connected to our God.  We can’t treat others right until we have a solid foundational relationship with our God!

Vs. 5-6 – “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” NIV

  • When the church treats people with love, kindness, and caring, the world sees Christ through the Churches actions.  Caring for people this way is the Gospel in action!

Vs. 7-9 – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” NIV

  • Our mission on earth is to spread the Gospel of Jesus to everyone.  When we reach out in love and live the Gospel, we proclaim Jesus to a world that needs him, more and more every single day!