Restoring Broken Relationships

PHILEMON

Relationships are a wonderful part of life. The memories of fun and laughter bring a smile to our faces. But as wonderful as relationships are, relationships are not immune to stresses and strains. Relationships can be damaged and broken. Continue reading Restoring Broken Relationships

Celebrating the Good News of the Gospel

Bad News/Good News

Do you want to hear the bad news or the good news? It is important that we hear both and until you are recused from the bad news you cannot celebrate the good news. Continue reading Celebrating the Good News of the Gospel

Down, But Not Out

Opportunity

How many times have you disobeyed the Lord and not received what you deserved? I am sure that if we all think long and hard, we will be amazed that we are still here! Why is that? God is merciful and gracious. There are many things that we have done that removed us from the pathway of obedience. We know what His Word says, but we selfishly reject it. Such acts of rebellion (both private or public) against God’s Word are damaging and can cause great devastation. When we deviate from God’s will it robs us of joy in the Lord and opportunity to be faithful and glorify His magnificence.

If we have miserably failed in living according to God’s will, what should our next steps be? Instead of becoming despondent or moving in a direction of deeper depravity, as children of God we must confess our sin to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and repent from our sin. It is then we will know the joy and freedom that repentance brings (cf. ). The fact that the Lord has provided you an opportunity to know the seriousness of your sin and the occasion to seek His forgiveness reveals His wondrous grace and mercy toward you! He would be just in simply punishing us on the spot if he so desired.

This reminds me of Jonah. In an earlier post we learnt that due to his reluctance, Jonah ran away from God’s will. Despite his selfish and rebellious act of running away from God, the Lord chased him and got his attention. The Lord sovereignly prepared a great fish to swallow him up (). It was in the depths of the sea creature’s belly that Jonah saw the error of his way. He confessed his sin and repented.Despite his disobedience, in a merciful and miraculous way “the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land” (). God then provided Jonah with another opportunity to obey Him (cf. ). This says a lot concerning the character of God. What mercy and grace on display!

Perhaps you are down and despondent as a result of your sin. Don’t despair, instead look unto the Lord God and seek His forgiveness. Be thankful to Him that He has provided you with an opportunity to do this! As He grants you occasion, seek His grace to be faithful and fervent in your service to Him. You may be down, but by His grace you don’t have to be out.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

17  And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

3:1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”

Running Away from God

Running Away

A game many children are good at is “Hide and Seek”. The thrill of running away while the person who is seeking has their eyes closed. You look for a safe haven in which you will be able to remain while the seeker is searching hard. Sometimes a child thinks they are in great hiding spot, but the reality is they aren’t. Other times, they are and the seeker will never find them. Continue reading Running Away from God

The Power of the Cross

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In the first century, crucifixion was a means used to execute criminals. The four gospel accounts provide record of the events that led up to and the actual occasion of the crucifixion of Christ. Treated and tried as a criminal, Jesus Christ was innocent of the earthly charges made concerning Him.  However, it was necessary that He be crucified. We are told that it was at the cross  where Jesus Christ made the atonement for sin. It is for this reason that the word of the cross for us who believe “is the power of God” (). The cross of Christ provides us with a powerful message. It is a pulpit in which the most amazing message is proclaimed. It was Augustine who said, “The cross was a pulpit in which Christ preached his love to the world”. How was this love preached? In Paul’s letter to the Romans we read concerning Christ,

“whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” ().

In these two verses the message of the cross is heard in two declarations:

The Cross Declared Divine Justice
God is righteous and just. Moses said concerning the Lord, “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (). Because this is who God is, everything He does is in accordance with what is right and just. This includes how He treats us. When we compare ourselves against God’s righteous standard it becomes crystal clear that we are sinful (cf. ). This means if God is going to be just, He must punish our sins.

How did the cross declare Divine justice? In God’s great mercy He provided a way in which His wrath would be satisfied. begins by saying what God the Father did concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood“. The word “propitiation” refers to the act of satisfying God’s wrath against sin. God’s wrath is justifiably towards all sinners and as we sin we are storing up more wrath against us (cf. ). How can this wrath ever be taken away? The solution is found in the cross. As stated earlier, in God’s great mercy He provided a way in which His wrath would be satisfied. The act of satisfying His wrath came when He “put forward” His own Son “as a propitiation”.

At the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ took our place by being “put forward” publically. This means, when He was crucified it was not done in secret, but God put His Son on public display at Calvary for all to see. According to , “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God“. At the cross Christ became sin on our behalf. We deserve to be punished; we deserved God’s fury to be unleashed on us. But those who come to God through faith in Christ Jesus had their sins imputed to Christ. He took your punishment, and God treated Him on that cross as if that was you. How amazing and humbling is that truth!

Simply put, when Jesus died on the cross He satisfied the Father’s anger and wrath towards sin. This act of sacrifice involved a cost and that was the very blood of Jesus Christ (cf. ).

The Cross Declared Divine Justification
Christ satisfied the wrath of God at the cross. However, if you are going to have a right standing before God, you must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Paul writes that this gift comes to “the one who has faith in Jesus” (). Faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace, understanding that we deserve to be punished by God for our sin. Therefore, having nothing to offer we trust and adhere to Jesus Christ as Lord, and by faith we place our full confidence and trust in Him. The words from the hymn “My hope is built on nothing less” convey the grand truth in this text,

“My hope is built on nothing less
 than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
 but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.”

The power of the cross is seen in that God was both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Justice and love met at the cross thus forming the sound of the greatest message to ever be heard. The cross is indeed the pulpit of God’s love – this is the power of the cross.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

“The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Romans 2:5

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Christ our Advocate

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The people of God have much to rejoice over. The more one reads the Scriptures and studies the doctrine of salvation, they are reminded how much the Lord has done and how grateful we ought to be. One of the blessings of the gospel is that Christ is our Advocate. Continue reading Christ our Advocate

What the Death of Christ Means for us

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Over the years, the cross has become a religious symbol for many Sadly, this is only a symbol and a religious add-on to their lives. We need to know and remember that there is a a deep and profound meaning when we think of the cross of Christ. In the first century the cross was the place where painful and gruesome public execution occurred. The horrific event of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross was not an event that captured the Lord by surprise (). It was a part of His plan of redemption. 

Continue reading What the Death of Christ Means for us

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

God’s grace in the face of our sin – 1 Samuel 12

 

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In , Samuel outlines to the people of Israel their checkered history of following the God who chose them and rescued them. The retelling largely contains rebellion and idolatry on Israel’s part, including their most recent mistake – requesting that they have a king to rule over them. The people rightly despair at their sin (v. 19). However, Samuel’s response is probably not what they were expecting:

Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet, do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” ()

God, through his chosen prophet, offers grace in face of sin. He offers covenant-faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness. This is the character of our God and his relationship to his people. Samuel does go on to urge them to serve the Lord faithfully (v. 24), and to warn them of the punishment to come if they fail (v. 25). Even so, what a beautiful expression these verses contain of the grace and covenant love that rises within the heart of our Lord, even in the face of our sin.

And Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers. When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your fathers cried out to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king. 13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. 16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.

Reconciliation: Part 1 – Reconciliation between us and God

Reconciliation: Part 1 – Reconciliation between us and God

The Bible speaks of reconciliation.  In fact it is a very important topic in the Bible.  Reconciliation occurs where two parties who were estranged from one another, perhaps at enmity with one another, are now in right relationship with each other.

The key relationship of reconciliation in the Bible is, of course, between us and God.  The Bible says that in our natural state we are not neutral towards God.  Many non-Christians think that they are neutral towards God – that they have nothing against God.  They just quietly get on with their lives without God.  The Bible sees this as being at enmity with God and as siding with the devil.  For God loves us and has given us everything we now enjoy – even our life itself (; cf ).  Ignoring God and getting on with your life as if he is of no importance amounts to what is monstrous ingratitude ().  In our natural state we are not neutral towards God.  We are estranged from him as his enemies: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” ().   Our natural state is one of hostility to God: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.” ().

Continue reading Reconciliation: Part 1 – Reconciliation between us and God

25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.