Tag Archives: the Gospel

Don’t Be Ridiculous

Genesis 44

The other day I was having lunch with a friend, and she picked up the tab. I wasn’t expecting that. I argued for a minute, but she held the bill. I thanked her, and she paid for lunch.

It looked like Benjamin would have to be a slave as punishment for stealing a silver cup. Knowing how devastated their father would be at the loss of his youngest son, all ten brothers volunteered to give up their freedom and become slaves, too.

Joseph the governor of Egypt (whom they didn’t realize was actually their long lost brother), insisted that because Benjamin was “guilty,” Benjamin would have to serve his own punishment.

Then Judah, one of the brothers responsible for selling Joseph into slavery, offered himself. The punishment had to be paid, and Judah wanted to take on that punishment for Benjamin.

It’s a picture of grace, isn’t it? Unlike Benjamin who was actually innocent of stealing that cup, you and I are guilty. We are sinners. We have disobeyed and dishonored God more times than we could count. The wages, or the just punishment of sin is death.

We deserve to die an eternal, painful, unrelenting death for the sins we have committed. But Jesus stepped in, picked up the bill, went to the cross where He died, and paid our death sentence.

Now, wouldn’t it have been ridiculous for me to go to the cashier at the restaurant the other day and pay my portion of the bill after my friend had already paid it? No one in their right mind would do such a thing.

It’s as ridiculous for anyone to pay their own death sentence, too, because Jesus has already paid it in full! I had to accept my friend’s generosity at the restaurant. And because I did, I was able to walk out of there without it costing me anything.

If you haven’t accepted what Jesus has already paid, I urge you to do that today. It would be ridiculous not to.

Death at the Hand of God.

Genesis 38

Does God lie in wait to take out evil people like an army sniper? That seems to be the case with Judah’s sons Er and Onan. Scripture is very clear: these were bad men – and God killed them.

So are we to assume this is God’s MO? That if you are bad enough He just mows you down, gives you cancer, or a bullet in your head?

Yes. And no.

God wants us to know death is a part of the curse handed down because of Adam’s sin. God causes death for every human being because all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. But common sense – and life – tells us there are some very evil people in the world living to a ripe old age.

So no, God doesn’t make it a habit of killing sinners, Aren’t you glad? We don’t know why God chose to kill Er and Onan like He did. And He doesn’t owe us an explanation. But what happened to them is not a blueprint for God’s dealing with people.

In fact, Scripture repeatedly shows us how patient God is with us sinners, how quick He is to forgive a repentant heart, how He longs to save whosoever believes. Look at how many chances God gave the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Read in the New Testament what Jesus did for sinners when He went to the cross.

I think the lesson here in Genesis is that all of us will die at the hand of God. Some will die young, others will live to be 100 years old. Our deaths won’t have as much to do with whether or not we were good or bad, as it will have to do with God’s Sovereignty.

Death will end life on Earth for all of us unless Jesus comes back first. That is His Sovereign will.

I see Er and Onan dying in their sin, because I believe had they repented we would be reading about that. That makes me want to warn us all. Because we are going to die.

My prayer is that we will be ready to die by accepting the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. Your death could come today. My death could come today.

The question is: are we ready?

Why The Tree?

Genesis 1-3

We can question why God placed that tree in the middle of the garden knowing it represented sin and separation from Him, when He created us to fellowship with Him. We could, as some do, accuse God of playing a sinister game with the victims of His creation.

Or we can recognize and be thankful for the fact that He created us with dignity, intelligence, the ability to choose to do the right thing. Yes – He knew given the choice, we would sin. But He didn’t leave us hanging.

He did what needed to be done so that when we do the right thing – when we choose Jesus – He looks at us through the perfection and holiness of His Son.

Right from the start God began painting a picture of His plan to redeem us. He placed a tree in the center of the garden. Then He very clearly said that tree was the difference between life and death. Choose wisely, He warned.

There is another tree in the center of your life. God very clearly tells us it’s the difference between life and death. I’m sure you know that tree is the cross of Jesus. And I want you to hear God’s clear warning:

Choose wisely.

Today is the first day of 2022. I hope you know Jesus as your Savior and have made Him the Lord of your life. But if you haven’t, today would be a great day to do that. Begin this year with a clean slate, a pure heart, forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ who died on a cross to save you.

That’s why the tree. Choose wisely.

(Acts 16) How Far Are You Willing To Go?

It seems that immediately after the Church leaders made it plain that a Gentile did not have to be circumcised in order to be considered a believer, Paul had Timothy circumcised. Paul had been strongly against the circumcision requirement. So was he being hypocritical when he insisted Timothy be circumcised? What gives?

Well, first off, Timothy was already a believer. He had already accepted the saving work of Jesus by faith. His circumcision was not a step toward salvation. He was already saved.

So why on earth would he go through that painful surgery if he didn’t have to?

Timothy wasn’t circumcised for his own benefit. He did it for the benefit of the Jews who needed to hear the Gospel, and he knew the Jews would not easily accept the word of an uncircumcised man.

Paul and Timothy were picking their battles. It was the Gospel they wanted to preach, not the value or uselessness of circumcision.

Sometimes we get so caught up in little details and opinions that the Gospel isn’t heard. What is more important: what the preacher wears on Sunday morning (and I’m talking to you who prefer suit and tie AND you who prefer jeans and t-shirts), or is it what he says from the pulpit that matters?

Is it more important to hear drums or an organ accompanying the singing, or is the preaching of the Gospel more important? King James, NIV, or the Gospel being explained through the text?

Timothy was willing to go as far as having that surgery to clear the way for the Gospel. How far are you willing to go?

(The Book of Luke) Meet Your Savior

What does it mean to me that Jesus rose from the grave, that he died, was buried, and lived again? What does it say that many people who witnessed his very public death, watched his body placed in a tomb, then days later sat and talked with him, touched his flesh, saw the nail prints in His hands?

To me, it’s the difference between holding to a belief system, and holding to the Truth. If Jesus died and rose again, I can only bow to His power and proclaim, “He is God.” If He can do that, I can know His Words are true, said with authority no one else has.

I don’t have to hope I know the Truth. He is the Truth. If I see Him through eyes of faith, I see the Father. If I confess my sin He is faithful to forgive. If He tells me He’s preparing a place for me in eternity, I can know that’s exactly what He’s doing.

If you have doubt about the God/man Jesus, I challenge you to read Luke’s Gospel with the determination to hear the Truth. If you read it hoping to reenforce your skepticism, you’ll miss what God wants you to know. Put your doubt aside. Read it assuming it’s true, rather than assuming it’s false.

And meet your Savior.

(Luke 12) Given Much

I’ve heard it said that people who haven’t heard the Gospel will be judged less severely than those who hear and reject it. I’ve even heard it said people who never hear about Jesus will get a free pass. And often, the people who believe that will use 12:48 as the basis for their belief. But is that what Jesus was saying here?

We need to ask ourselves about whom Jesus is speaking – and to whom he is saying it. Is He referring to saved and unsaved people? If you go back to verse 41 and read this whole section, you’ll see He is referring to believers. He’s talking about servants, managers, which begs the question – whose servants are they and whose property do they manage?

This message is for His disciples, those who have been given much!

We who are believers, students, servants of God, will be accountable for more when He returns. The longer I walk with Him, the sweeter the walk, and the more responsibility I have as His child.

You don’t hold a first grader accountable for passing a twelfth grade exit exam, and you don’t reward a twelfth grader for knowing only what a first grader knows. And, yes, God punishes both for not knowing what they are given at their level of understanding.

So don’t use this verse as an excuse for not supporting missions or evangelistic efforts, thinking people would be better off if they never hear about Jesus. The truth is, Jesus is still the only way to the Father.

And you will be held accountable for what you do about that with the knowledge you have received. If you are a believer and have dealt with your own sin at the foot of the cross, you’ve already been given much!

(Matthew 19) The Impossible

Do you believe all things are possible with God? I do, because Jesus said so. But what are the “all things?”

Does this half-verse mean I can do anything I set my mind to because God can do the impossible? If I’m determined to get that promotion at work, or buy that vacation home at the price I can afford, or get my magic number of followers on SnapChat so I can become an influencer, am I to believe I can succeed because God can do the impossible?

Don’t base your view of God on seven words of a partial verse in the Bible.

What God wants us to know in this portion of His Word is that He can save anybody. He wants to assure us that no one has done so much evil, or is so prideful, or has too hard a heart, that He can’t forgive them when they repent of their sin.

These verses should inspire us to pray for the salvation of our loved ones living so far from the Truth we’re tempted to think they have no hope. God wants us to know they HAVE hope!

Keep praying. Keep being obedient. God might use you to do the impossible in that person’s heart and life.

I beg you, don’t use this verse as a magic wand, believing God has promised to make your dreams come true. He’s not that shallow.

(Matthew 7:13-23) It Is Narrow

As I read these verses this morning, I was reminded of a post I read the other day, written by a woman who would tell you she’s a Christian, condemning a Christian University for discharging a female professor planning to marry a woman. The writer, who proudly identified herself as “a woman married to a man,” reeled against the University for having a narrow world-view, something she said she herself had at one time being raised in a Christian home, going to a Christian school, and attending the very University she now condemned.

It was at that University, she said, where her eyes had been open to the broader world-view she now holds. In her opinion, the University’s stand against same-sex marriage was a step back, and she was angry.

Dear One, watch out for false teachers who come to you in sheep’s clothing. The post this woman wrote, and other “woke” views seem right, and logical, and accepting of all views. Watch out.

Like it or not, the road to God IS NARROW. I didn’t make that up. Read these verses for yourself. I didn’t build the road. But I will tell you it exists, and I’ll pray you walk it. All other roads lead to destruction.

All other roads.

I applaud the bold stand this University has taken for the Truth of Scripture in this day and age when that is a stand that could have serious repercussions. So many people are looking for this fight and would love to see the University taken down, as I believe the writer of the post I read would like to see. “Punish anyone who disagrees with me,” is the attitude of our sin-sick world, the attitude of people who will in one breath tell you not to judge, while judging you.

Would you pray with me for this University and others like it that are being faithful to the Word of God? They don’t have it easy. And I don’t see it getting easier any time soon. May God be glorified even in this.

A Scripturally based world-view is both broad and narrow. Broad in the sense that we are all sinners. All of us! Broad in the sense that “whosoever” believes in Jesus’ death on the cross as a substitute for the penalty of their sin, will be saved. Narrow in the sense that Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.” Narrow in the sense that the Bible is the Word of God, and stands as the only Truth.

Broad in the sense you can believe what you want to believe. Narrow in the sense that everything you believe might not be true.

The fact is, the plan of God from the beginning is a narrow road. It doesn’t matter if that hurts your delicate feelings. Walk it, or don’t. Just know the destination of each road is very, very different.

Is it time you narrowed your own world-view?

(Malachi) Something’s Gotta Change

When you read 2:19, do you think of our modern society? Aren’t we living in an age when evil is applauded, and we’re told if there is a God, He accepts everyone equally?

Malachi says we have “wearied the Lord with (our) words.”

God’s prophetic words go on to say there will be a judgment, and NO ONE will be able to face the judge on their own merit, no matter how much they’ve convinced themselves of their own worth. We need only to look at Jesus.

“Who will be able to stand when He appears?”

I’ll tell you who: those of us who have bowed to the one and only God of the universe; we who have accepted what the perfect Jesus did when He died in our place on the cross of judgment. It won’t be Connie God sees when I stand before Him. He’ll be looking at the righteousness of His Son because I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, and have repented of my sin.

Dear Ones, there is good and there is evil. There is right and there is wrong. There is black and there is white. There is Truth and there are lies. Like it or not, believe it or not.

God has not changed. So we better.

(Nahum, Habakkuk) Seriously

I am not sure the Church takes God seriously enough. We read about His wrath in the Old Testament against His disobedient children and against His enemies, and breathe a sigh of relief because we live after the cross.

The cross: the symbol of love and forgiveness and hope and eternal bliss.

We forget the cross is also a symbol of judgment without mercy, death, and God’s fierce wrath.

Read these Old Testament books and hear God say no one is immune from His wrath. You can call yourself a Christian all day long. But if you have not repented of past sins, and have determined to change in order to obey God today, you are not a Christian. You are His enemy wearing His name.

You don’t just “give your heart” to the Lord, and go on your merry way. Yes, God is love. He is patient, kind, and forgiving. He blesses and protects His obedient children. But don’t ignore the other side of that coin. He’s not a doting grandfather who turns a blind eye on disobedience.

He will not let the guilty go unpunished.

You are not immune from God’s wrath. But I want you to know God turned His wrath on His own Son for you. Jesus paid God’s awful judgment in your place. Accept it. But don’t take it for granted, either.

God seriously hates sin. We need to take Him seriously, too.