Hope for the Wayward Ones

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Do you have a wayward child or a wayward spouse? Maybe you are even that wayward one? I want to encourage you to not give up hope!

I want to share something with you that I find so interesting. In Genesis 5, we're told Enoch lived for 65 years. That's a long time! It says, then he begat Methuselah, meaning he had a child, and then after he fathered Methuselah, he walked with God. 

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Genesis 5:21-22 (NIV)

My friends, did you see it? Enoch encountered a life-changing event - the birth of his child radically altered him to the point where he walked with God. He's one of only two people in the Bible who never died. Both he and Elijah were taken up to Heaven without dying. 

The point is this...don't give up hope!

There are significant life events coming which God is going to use to perhaps bring that wayward one to faith!

A friend of mine, who's now with the Lord, had five children. One time when I was with him, I asked, “How are your kids doing?” He said, “Well, Frank, I've got four of them walking with God and one working on his testimony... and he's going to have a great testimony!” That's the attitude we want to have!

Whatever's going on right now is not the end of your story! 

Start praying for significant life events that God will use to touch the heart of that wayward one and bring them to faith. He can bring them to such faith that their walk will be so pleasing. He will take them home without dying someday. That's the lesson of Enoch. Don't give up hope! Pray for a life-changing event to come into that wayward one's life.

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The Ones God Never Casts Aside

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I remind people all the time that we're living in a world we were never designed to live in. We were designed for the Garden of Eden, a paradise. If you hadn't noticed, this is anything but paradise! Things happen to us that we were never designed for. Things that cut, sting, wound, hurt, and cause us, in a very real way, to bleed out. We've become what the Bible calls faint-hearted.

The word “faint-hearted” is the fascinating Greek word, “Oligopsuchos,” which literally means “small-souled.” 

We've atrophied from what we were originally designed to be. But that’s where Jesus comes in!

I love what Jesus said in Matthew 12, quoting Isaiah, He said, “A bruised reed He will not break…” Matthew 12:20a (NIV) But what does that mean? 

In the ancient world, they would take reeds, carve them, and put holes in them to make flutes. If you bruised, bent, or broke the reed, it wouldn't play. So they’d throw it away because there were a bunch of other reeds out there. 

Listen, my friend, God will never treat you as a bruised reed. He will never say, “This one’s no good anymore! There's lots of reeds I can use.” That's not our God. 

He will never cast off the bruised reed!

In the same verse Jesus says, “...And a smoldering wick He will not put out…” Matthew 12:20b (NASB) What is He saying to us? 

Well, to make a lamp in the ancient world, they would put in oil, and they would put a wick in the oil. When the wick began to burn down, it wouldn't give off much light. It was no big deal. They would extinguish it, throw it away, and get another wick. There were plenty of wicks out there. 

What does Jesus say about a smoldering wick? He says, “I will never extinguish it!” 

My friends, it’s time for the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s time for the church to reach out to those smoldering wicks, those bruised reeds, those small-souled people...and love on them! Be with them. Live with them. 

It’s time to teach the faint-hearted who they really are and how much God loves them! 

Tell the faint-hearted that He will never, ever, cast them aside!

This is the love of our great God. This is the love of Jesus!

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To Those Who Can’t Stand in this Fast-Paced World

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We live in a very fast-paced world and if you don't keep up, it's very easy to get left behind. In fact, most of us are so busy that we don't have time to help those who get left behind. Yet, that's exactly what the Bible calls us to do. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5, 

We're told to encourage the fainthearted and help the weak.

“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB)

Encourage is the Greek word “paramythéomai” which means “near speech.” That's a great word picture, isn't it? Get near to these people, come close. 

The Bible says our words are to be like words seasoned with salt. Salt makes food tastes good, but salt also preserves. Let's take the opportunity to…

 Speak Truth! Speak Life into the weak-hearted! Encourage them to continue in their struggle. 

Help the weak is the second half of that verse. The Greek word for weak is “asthenōn.” It literally means “without strength.” Do you see what this means, Beloved?

We have the opportunity to provide ourselves as crutches for people to lean on. 

My wife gave me a plaque and I'm not normally one for Christian clichés, but she knows me very well. This one resonated with me. It haunts me every day and is on my mind constantly. This is what it says, 

“Grace sat down with me until I could walk again.” 

Isn't that great? Doesn’t that capture exactly what the Thessalonians charge is all about? Are there people around you who can't get up anymore? Sit down with them until they can get up! Take the opportunity to be the Church. The Church is actually to be “God with skin on” 

so that we can touch people's lives! 

Go be the Church...sit down with someone until they can walk again!

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Without Trust: My Story of Failure

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Most people have a tendency to read things quickly. This is especially true with the Bible; we read the Bible quickly. I have a mantra at Grace Life Fellowship, it’s “Never read the Bible casually.” When we read the Bible casually, we can miss the intensity of what God wants to teach us and place in our hearts so we can know Him better and trust Him more fully. 

Today, I want to focus on a verse from the book of James. Many of you know this verse, but I don't know if we take the time to ponder it. It says, “We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2a (NIV) 

None of us walk through this life perfectly. We all stumble. We do things we don't want to do; we get seduced by the enemy, we make a choice of the will, we take our eyes off God, we put our eyes on the world, and we act out of character. And when we do these things, we can be prone to walk in guilt and shame and feel very, very lonely, as if we're the only ones who have ever failed. 

Today, I want to share with you one of my worst failures. 

My daughter, Morgan, developed late onset epilepsy. It was progressive and got very, very serious. We eventually had to pull her out of college because she could no longer do the work. She was heavily medicated and still having seizures. She didn’t want to sit and watch life from the sidelines. She decided to attend a Bible school out of the state so that she could continue to try and help her mind while learning more about God as the medicine hopefully balanced out in her body. 

Around late September we received a phone call from the school. They told me that my daughter was having a seizure. I asked them how long it had been going and they replied, “9 minutes.” If you are not familiar with epilepsy and seizures, you need to understand that a seizure longer than 5 minutes can be very serious. It can mean brain damage or even death. 

She has medicine that we can inject to help stop her seizures, so I hurriedly told them, “Give her a shot,” to which they responded, “We've already given her one.” 

I cried out, “Oh no! Give her another shot and call 911.”

While I stayed on my phone, I grabbed someone else's so I could call one of her neurologists - she has three of them. In my fear and anxiety I cried out to the woman who answered, “Quick! Get the doctor out of his room. Morgan is having a seizure and we can't get it to stop! I've given her two shots already and I need to know if I can give her a third shot!” The lady on the other end said, “Well, I'm going to follow protocol. I need the date of birth.” I said, “Ma'am, I don't have time to give you her date of birth! Please get the doctor, I've got to see if I can give her a third shot!” 

All this time, I can hear the people with Morgan saying, “12 minutes, Pastor Frank, 12 minutes!” They were desperate, and I grew desperate too. I said, “Ma'am, I don't have time for this! Please get the doctor out of his office!” She forcefully replied, “I am going to follow protocol! He's going to want to see the chart.”

I gave in. I gave her the date of birth, and as the receptionist typed it in she stated, “Oh, my, my... My computer is so slow today.” While she slowly waited on her computer, all I could hear from my other phone was people screaming at me saying, “14 minutes, Pastor Frank, 14 minutes! … 15 minutes!” 

I began to believe this little girl was going to die and there was nothing I could do.

After about 7 minutes, the lady came back on the phone and said, “Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking! He's not here today.” I hung up the phone which was a good idea, before I said something! I immediately called her second neurologist. I got the nurse who told me that the doctor wasn’t in the office. I hung up again thinking, do these people work? And all the while I can hear voices shouting, “Pastor Frank, it's 20 minutes!... 21 minutes! What are we going to do?” 

Shaking, I called her third neurologist and I quickly told the nurse what had happened. I said, “I've given her two shots. She's at 21 minutes now, what do I do? What do I do?” The nurse responded, “Well, give her a shot and call 911.” I said, “Ma'am, are you listening to me? I've already given her two shots! We've already called 911! I need to find out if I can give her a third shot or if that third shot will kill her!!!” To these words she replied, “Well, I don't know. The doctor's not here today.”

I hung up the phone and cried out to God, “What do I do? What do I do?” The thought came to my brain to call the pharmacy. So I called the pharmacist and said, “I've given Morgan two shots, she's now been seizing for 24 minutes. Can I give her a third shot or am I going to kill her?” He said, “I don't know. Let me call the factory and I'll call you right back.” I hung up the phone. 

Here's where I failed. 

I cried out to God, “God, if You take her, You and I are done! I will never preach another sermon for You.” 

I listened to the people who were with Morgan continued to call out to me: 28 minutes, 29 minutes, 30 minutes. I felt so helpless and I so alone. At minute 31 the pharmacist called back, “Frank, I talked to the factory. It's one shot every four hours.” I said, “I've already given her two and I can't stop the seizure. What am I going to do?” And he said, “You're going to have to make a decision.” 

I hung up the phone. I cried out as a father, “What do I do? What do I do? If I give her a third shot, I could kill her; if I don't give her a third shot, she could die!” Through the phone I can hear them screaming, “33 minutes, Pastor Frank! ... 34 minutes, Pastor Frank!” I was indecisive, I didn’t know what to do and then suddenly they called out, “EMS is here!” EMS came in and made the decision to give her a third shot which stopped the seizure. 

She had eight more seizures that night, seven the next morning. 

I booked an immediate flight and was in Colorado in six hours. I had appointments with Mayo Clinic lined up within days. After many, many tests, we were able to finally bring her seizures under control. 

Up until about a year ago, I hadn’t told this story publicly. I did share it privately with a few people but had never spoken about it outside of that. A little over a year ago, I shared it with one person because they were so upset over how they had failed God. As I said earlier, when we fail God we can feel very guilty, very ashamed and very alone; like we're the only ones who have ever failed God in such a way. And so I decided to share my story with her. The story of how I failed God in my faith, of how I didn't trust Him. My friend, I didn’t trust God to get my daughter through that situation, and on that day, I chose that I wasn't going to trust Him if He decided it was time for her to go home to Heaven.

I shared my story with this lady, and I told her, “You're not the only one who fails; I failed in my faith, I failed to trust God in a crisis.” The moment those words left my lips, deep in my spirit I heard these words, “Yes, son, you failed in faith, but you did not fail as a dad. You fought for your daughter the same way I fight for you, My son.” I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, those were not my thoughts. 

The Holy Spirit of God spoke words of comfort and encouragement to my mind and my heart. 

My friends, what I want you to understand is that our God loves us and He fights for us even when we are faithless, even when we fail to believe that He is good, even when we fail to believe that He will fight for us. He IS good, and He IS fighting for us, even if we aren't aware of it. 

I pray the story of my failure encourages you, because the reality is, 

My failure was not the end of my story and neither is your failure the end of your story. 

Our God’s New Covenant tells us that He is bringing us to an appointed end, and beloved, it is a good end. I love you. Even more importantly, He loves you. And I pray that in His richest favor, He will open your eyes and give you revelation to see how good He is, and how much He fights for you. 

God bless you in Jesus' name.

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When You Feel You Can't Go On

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I've been learning a verse for the past forty years - the key word there is “learning.You see, I haven't learned it yet, but I'm in the process. 

The verse is found in Philippians,

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

We’ve heard this verse, we know what the verse says, but what does it mean? 

Well, first you have to keep the verse in its context, otherwise, you'll make it say something it doesn't say. For example, I could say, “I can do all things through Christ.” So, I'm going to claim that and I'm going to “move my mountain!” But, that's not what this verse is saying. Paul gives very clear context to this verse: he says that he knows how to have a lot and how to have a little; he knows how to be healthy and how to be sick; he knows how to be full and how to be empty; he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Paul says he can live confidently and assuredly in whatever circumstances he finds himself in. 

A classic example of this is found in Acts 16 with Paul and Silas. They preach a sermon, there was great conversion, people are doing wonderful and Paul in his heart of hearts says, “I can do this!” He was later arrested, falsely accused, beaten, and thrown into jail. The fascinating thing is what he does while in jail - he and Silas sing praises - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” 

I don't know what you're going through today, my friend, but I know this world we live in so you're likely experiencing some hurt, sorrow, frustration, rejection or disappointment. Hear me, beloved, I don't know what today holds for you, but I know who holds today, and I know who holds tomorrow. And the One who holds today and tomorrow is holding you and offering you His strength and His very own Life, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. 

Walk in the faith that He will be all that He is, to whatever you need, and you will experience Him. 

You’ll look back in your life and remember what He brought you through and you’ll think, “I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did.” Trust Him, He's up to the demand!

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How to Trust When God Gives No Explanation

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The chairman of my board, John Russin, once said to me, “I wish God was more concerned about His reputation.” Let's think about that for a minute as we look back in Scripture to see the sometimes confusing ways that God works in our lives.

Take Habakkuk for example - God used the more wicked Chaldeans to punish wicked Israel. Or how about the account of the birth of Christ, where we see Herod being allowed to slaughter all those babies? What about in Job, where we find Job questioning God’s actions and how God replies by asking Job if he was there when He hung the stars in the sky, or hung the earth with nothing suspending it? God continues, asking if He sought Job’s wisdom when He had the ostrich lay its eggs on the ground? 

Fascinating thought, isn’t it? I mean, let’s be honest, laying your eggs on the ground is a foolish idea, isn’t it? Eggs laid on the ground can be taken by enemies or destroyed very easily, and yet the ostrich continues to proliferate. I think what God was saying to Job in those verses was, I am in the things that don't even make sense. 

I too, wish sometimes that God was more concerned about His reputation and would offer some explanations! I think these stories were placed in the Scriptures so we would recognize how big He is. He is far beyond our minds! We may be teachers, but we were first students, and we need to remain students or we'll never be teachers of other men. We must allow God to be big and, in the process, allow God to be good. 

“You are good and do good.” Psalm 119:68a (NASB)

All He does is good, beloved, even when it doesn't look good. 

You know, if He's not worried about his reputation, I don't think we should be worried about it either.

He allowed His Son to be crucified for the sin of man. If you think about it, that doesn't make sense either. All it does is magnify His goodness and His love. 

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 

1 John 3:16a (NIV)

He is good, and He is big, and we're going to spend an eternity learning how good and big He really is. Beloved, I hope this encourages you. 

When dark things come your way, realize that He's bigger than those dark things. 

Trust that He is good and all that He does is good, even when things don't look good. 

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God Has No Opposite: Why We Can Live Unafraid

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I’m concerned that the community of faith has given Satan far too much credit for what he accomplishes. There are seminars, books and conferences that try to teach you how to deal with Satan. 

Let’s look together at two verses of Scripture to see what God wants us to know about our enemy. 

  1. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” 

    Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

    I want you to note that the key word in this verse from Ephesians, is “wrestle.” 

  2. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

1 Peter 2:11 (ESV)

I want you to note that the key word in this verse from 1 Peter, is “war.” 

Now tell me friend, which is the bigger issue, to “wrestle” or to go to “war”? You see, there are a limited amount of demons, and not only that, they are defeated enemies. They have been defanged, just as Satan who goes around roaring like a lion, has no teeth! 

The only real weapons Satan has are lies and deception. 

The flesh, however, goes with us twenty-four hours a day. Everywhere we go it wars against the Spirit and it constantly beckons us to choose the flesh instead of the Holy Spirit to meet our needs. 

So let's define the flesh. Flesh is seeking to meet legitimate needs in an illegitimate way, using our own resources to manipulate and control our environment to get our needs met, independent of God. And we all have graduate degrees in the flesh, don’t we? 

Beloved, let's stop giving credit to Satan. I think he's getting a lot of credit for what we do in the flesh. Let's not deify him. 

Satan is not the opposite of God, 

God has no opposite!

Trust the Holy Spirit, my friend, and walk in the power of the Spirit and you will accomplish the fruit of the Spirit instead of the lust of the flesh.

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How to Survive in a World You Can't Keep Up With

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We live in a very fast-paced, performance-oriented world and it's very difficult to keep up, isn’t it? Sometimes the circumstances of life can be so overwhelming that we can't keep up and we lag behind. The sad thing about that is the rest of humanity is so caught up in this fast-paced, performance-oriented world that they don't stop to help us catch up. 

We're left alone in some very difficult circumstances. 

I believe that if we took the time to listen, we would hear the desperate cry - “Is there anyone out there that will fight for me? Is there anyone out there that will love me? Is there anyone out there who will accept me?”

The parable of the Good Samaritan comes to my mind, where people kept passing by the man who had been beaten up and left for dead. In the end there was one, only one, who stopped. 

We’re told in 1 Thessalonians, “Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14b (NASB) The word “fainthearted” is, “asthenés,” and it literally means “those who are weak” or “those who are without strength.” Have you ever felt that the world you’re living in has knocked you down so severely that you have no strength to get up? Recently, my wife gave me a plaque that I just love and it reads, “The Grace of God sat down with me until I could walk again.” My friend, did you hear that? 

The Grace of God sits down with you until you can walk again.

Oh beloved, that is the heart of our God, but it needs to be the heart of the Church. We are God with skin on to the rest of the world. I challenge you to look for those that are weak and weary. Look for those who are “asthenés,” - without strength. Look for that man on the side of the road that's been beat up and sit down with him until he’s able to walk again. You will be living Grace in that moment, and Grace will no longer be just a doctrine, but a reality to the one that you sat down with. 

God bless you today. Go be the Church!

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How to Confidently Discern Truth

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I have to share something with you today, my friend - 

I am very concerned... 

You see, as a pastor, people call me for advice, they write to me, and they often send me books they’ve read that they’re very excited about. Unfortunately, many times I have to write back to them and tell them that I'm not as excited about the book as they are. 

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, when the movement of the Grace of God was just gaining steam, many of us were called heretics and false teachers for teaching the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe what’s happening is that we're riding a wave of momentum where people are coming to understand their identity in Christ and the economy of Grace. This can be dangerous because I believe the enemy’s strategy is to blind the minds of the unbelieving.

“In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB)

When he can’t do that, his next best ploy, if you will, is to join the movement and then seek to pervert it. There are a lot of books today, being written about Grace by people who don’t really understand Grace. 

That is why we must always be “a Berean.” 

Do you remember what Paul said about the Bereans in the book of Acts?

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11 (NASB)

Why did Paul see them as noble-minded? Because they would not accept what Paul said at face value. They went home to search the Scriptures and see if what he was saying was actually true. 

No matter who the teacher, my friend, be careful. Test the spirits as 1 John 4 instructs. Are they naming, exalting, and lifting up the name of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, as God? Are they teaching the economy of Grace with no added legalism? 

Be a Berean, make sure what you’re being taught is true.

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There’s No Need to Imitate His Life, You Have the Real Thing!

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If you've walked at all in the glory of the grace of God, you have probably been accused of teaching “cheap grace” or “easy believism.” Well, let me tell you something friend, His grace is nothing of the sort! 

When Adam sinned, he believed the lie that he should be his own god, he believed the lie that he could provide his own source of life. Adam, up until this point, had lived in an economy of receiving. He was created halfway through the sixth day, so his first full day of life was the day of rest! He went out to work on day eight, but not to achieve anything. He was working simply because it was the divine ethic - God works. God is working right now holding all things together and if He takes a day off, the universe blows to bits! 

So, Adam worked from a position of rest, he was working from a position of already possessing everything. But now that he's made the choice to be like God, all of that has changed. He's now in an economy of achieving. He thinks, tell me what to do and I’ll do it, or tell me what not to do, and I won’t do that thing - that’s the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

Of course, there's a huge assumption with all of this, which is that man is going to be able to pull it off. This is how every man and every woman lives on this planet, performing for life, performing for love, performing for acceptance, performing for significance, performing for an identity.

The Cross of Jesus Christ has changed all that, beloved! At the Cross we died with Him, we have risen with Him, and we’re placed into union with Him. 

We no longer live for God, but instead, we live from Him.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” 

Colossians 2:6 (NASB)

We’ve received grace, through faith, and so we also walk in grace, through faith. And I'm here to tell you, my friend, there is nothing easy about that! 

One of the most difficult things you will ever do is to deny your own ability and instead, trust His ability; to say no to your resources and lean on the resources of God. In the words of John the Baptist, 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

John 3:30 (NASB)

Those are our marching orders for life. God is not impressed with our cheap imitation of His Life. What God made way for in the New Covenant was for us to have His Life in us, and experienced by us and expressed through us by faith. 

There is no such thing as cheap grace, and there is no such thing as easy believism. As we encounter life, we must say no to our resources and yes to His, and that requires diligent confidence and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. May you walk today, in the powerful grace of God. 

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What You Must Unlearn in Order to Live from God

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As we discovered the New Covenant, there’s one thing I think we specifically have to unlearn, and that is that the Christian life is not a code of ethics. It is no longer an external law where we seek to perform and achieve at life. 

We don't live for God, we live from God. 

The issue now has gone from external to internal. As Christ takes up residence in us through the power of His spirit, His Life is in us, and it wants out. The thing that we must understand, however, is that this is not an easy thing to do. People accuse those of us in the New Covenant economy of “easy believism.” But the truth is, 

There is nothing more difficult to do than to set aside your resources and choose instead to live out of the resources of God. 

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” 

Colossians 2:6 (NASB)

How did we receive Him? By grace through faith. So, how are we to walk in Him? By grace through faith. 

We are to live from God because that's the only way you and I can live for God. The life that pleases God is His own Life, which He has placed in us to release through us so we can multiply His Life throughout the world. The church is to function like a kaleidoscope, with varying personalities and expressions of the very same Life. The result is that the unbelieving world can look at the church and say, “Wow, so that's what God is like.” 

You are a part of that, beloved, so play your part. Live a life of faith, trusting God to be all that He is to whatever you need. Bless you now, go shine your light.

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There’s Nothing God Won’t Do to Get to You

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In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus told Nathaniel that he was going to see angels ascending and descending from the throne of God. Basically He was saying that Eden was going to be reversed. You see, man was removed from the tree of life, but men are going to be restored to life - they will gain access to heaven.

When the Lord Jesus Christ died, the temple veil was torn in two when an earthquake hit. But there is something very unique and special about this that I want you to think about. If the rumbling ground of an earthquake tore that veil, wouldn't it have made sense for the veil to have torn from the bottom up? But that’s not what happened! 

When we read the Gospel accounts, they tell us the veil was torn from top to bottom. Beloved, it's almost as if God took that veil and ripped it in two Himself, saying, “Finally you have access to me!” 

But here's the thought I want you to think on today - is it possible that there was more to that veil being torn than just us finally having access to Him? Perhaps Father was also saying, “Finally, I have access to YOU! Finally, I can be all that I've longed to be to YOU, but could never be to you before, because sin separated us.” 

With sin gone, God could finally be all that He is to whatever we need in the moment of faith.

The day that God said, “Finally,” was maybe the day that He tore that veil from top to bottom. 

Oh, how He loves you. He wants to be more to us then you and I can imagine. Let's trust in faith, He who can do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think. 

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Why We Can Be Thankful For God's Commands

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Romans 7:4 tells us that in Jesus Christ, we died to the Law. Paul uses an illustration of a husband and a wife, saying, if a man is married to a woman, and the wife goes with another man then she's committing adultery. BUT if the husband dies, the wife is free to remarry and that will not be considered adultery. 

Paul then goes on to use this as an illustration of us. We were married to the Law and that relationship had to end. God couldn't kill the Law because the Law was holy, perfect, and good; it abides forever. So what did He have to kill? He killed us, through our union and in our faith, He placed us on the Cross with Jesus so that we died and our relationship to the Law could end. Because of our resurrection with Jesus, we could be married to Jesus Christ instead.

“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”Romans 7:6 (NASB)

Do you see, beloved? What Jesus did, ended the Law. It's as clear in the New Testament as anyone can make it! 

As you continue to read the New Testament, you'll find a lot of commands: Don't go here, don't go there, don't quench the Spirit, submit to one another, don't gossip, don't let the sun go down on your anger - lots and lots of commands! We need to understand that the New Testament did not remove the imperative verb - we're supposed to live according to who we are, as it’s what would only be natural. 

So, how are we to look at these commands? We are to look at them two ways,

  1. God’s commands are a reminder of who we are. 

When the Bible says don't steal, it's calling you to your true identity. Of course you shouldn't steal, you’re not a thief, you’re a child of God. Don't gossip, well of course I can't gossip, that's not who I am. I speak the truth in love, as Colossians says, because I am a lover. When you see a command, don't look at it as something to do, look at is as something that you are. 

2. God’s commands are promises. 

We have been given the Life of Christ and the Life of Christ is a wonderful Life. And so when you see a command, let it draw you to Jesus Christ. Don't let it be something to do, let it bring you to a someone. When the Bible says don't steal, remember the promise, His Life is not a stealing life. And you’ll find yourself walking in intimate union with Jesus. Don't gossip, well that's a promise from Jesus that His Life is not a gossipy life. His Life speaks wholesome words. 

We can thank Jesus for His commands as they remind us of who we are and who He will be to us as we trust Him by faith. 

Don't fall into the trap of performing and doing, let those commands remind you of your identity, and remind you of the Person who will live that kind of life in and through you, He will fulfill those commands. It's all about Jesus, and it's about you trusting Him. I hope you've been liberated in that glory, my friend!

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The Most Glorious Revelation You Can Enter Into

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It saddens me that Romans 7:1-4 is such a neglected passage of Scripture by the Church, as it’s one of the most glorious revelations you will ever enter into.

There, we’re told that in Jesus Christ we have died to the law. A lot of people think that’s referring to ceremonial law, but if you continue to read you will see that coveting is spoken about, and we know that coveting is one of the big ten, listed in the Ten Commandments. So no, it can’t be ceremonial law. 

We have been delivered from the law, so that we 

might be married to another. 

You see, Adam plunged all of us into a relationship with the law; a relationship we were never intended to be in. Genesis 3:16 calls it the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If you've ever wondered what that means, it just means the tree of right and wrong. This is the tree Adam was told not to eat from. We were never supposed to even know right and wrong.

When Adam and Eve ate from that tree, they plunged into the law. They went from having a relationship with a Person, to having a relationship with principles. That's why Genesis 3:16 tells us that it brought death. That death, beloved, had to be redeemed by another, we needed to be set free. Jesus did that for us. 

We have been delivered from the law so that we can now have a relationship with a Person and His name is Jesus! 

It’s also important to know that Romans 7:4 says that relationship is the only way to bear fruit. You will never bear fruit in the Christian life by following the law. You only bear fruit in the Christian life through expressing the living Life of Christ. 

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5 (NASB)

The Christian life is all about fruit, and you can't have fruit if you don't have Life, and Life is only found in the person of Christ - it is never found in the law, that's why we had to be delivered from it.

Walk with Jesus, beloved, He alone can produce fruit in your life. We've been given a better principle, the principle of life instead of the principle of death. I hope this has encouraged your heart today. 

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Why John 3:16 Is Only Half the Story

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Many of us are familiar with John 3:16. It’s a very prevalent verse, and one that many adults can still recite from back in their Sunday School days! 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)

From this verse, we’ve developed the mantra, “Jesus died for my sins.” We conclude that He laid down His life for my sins so that I could go to heaven. And that’s wonderful - but now what do we do? 

The answer is found in a verse that’s not so prevalent in our modern church. 

Corresponding to John 3:16 is a verse found in 1 John 3:16. The verse in 1 John picks up on the thought from the verse in John: that love was manifested to us when He laid His Life down for us. The difference is, John doesn’t stop there! He adds these words, 

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 

1 John 3:16 (NASB)

Again this verse tells us how Jesus laid His life down for us, but in addition, the result and natural byproduct of what that means to us is revealed. He reminds us of what Jesus first did for us and adds, “and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Those are our marching orders until He returns, beloved: Just as Jesus laid down His life for us, so we lay our lives down for others. 

We do this so that others can enter into His love and that others can go to heaven. 1 John 4 declares that people have never seen God, but they can see the love that we have and then find God. Paul put it this way, 

We are the living letters from God telling the world how much God loves them. 

Ours is an “others” centered faith; we focus not just on what we receive, but on how God, through us, can allow others to receive as we lay down our lives. 

My friend, you might want to memorize these two verses and put them together. I think it's fascinating that they both carry chapter 3 verse 16, don’t you? It's almost like the Holy Spirit was saying, don't miss this one! 

Jesus dying for your sins is a wonderful message, but complete the message by including that just as Jesus died, we too, are to lay down our lives for others. 

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This One Name Unlocks Your Entire Identity

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One of the great glories of the New Testament is the revelation that we have been given a new name. The Bible says we’ve been given a brand new identity. 

You see, before Christ, we were known as sinners, the lost, rebels. But the glory of the New Testament reveals our new and wonderful multifaceted identities. 

I believe the name we’re all most familiar with is “saints.” But we're also called ambassadors, we’re called the living letters of God, the children of God, and the sons of God. We're called soldiers and farmers, and the list could go on and on. And while those are all wonderful names by which to identify ourselves, in my heart of hearts, I think there's one name that is above all the other names. 

There is one identity, that I believe, is greater than all the others. 

In Scripture, John calls us “beloved” which is “agapétos” in the Greek and it literally means “those loved by God.” I think it’s so insightful that this name, this great identity, was written about mostly by the Apostle John, because John was known as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” A name given to John, not because Jesus loved him especially, but because John marveled, was stunned by, and never let go of the fact that he was loved by God.  

Being called His “beloved” is the supreme identity that God has given to us.

I call it our supreme identity because all the other identities, or names He calls us by, are birthed firstly out of His love. 

It's because He loved us that He made us saints, it's because He loved us that He made us His ambassadors. It's because He loved us that He adopted us into His family as His own children. 

We are the beloved of God. 

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”  1 John 3:16a (NIV) My friend, He stretched out His arms and He said, I love YOU this much. 

Hold your head high in this dark world, you are the beloved of God!


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What Union With God Really Looks Like

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I want to talk to you today about Isaiah 40:30-31 where it says:

Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

Yet those who wait for the Lord

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

“Even the vigorous young men stumble and fall.” By the way, “vigorous young men” is the word for athlete in the Hebrew, so the average person trekking around in this world is definitely going to fall! Now notice the contrast with the next part, there’s another reality we need to understand. Those who rest in Him—“those who wait for the Lord” is what it says. I would translate it differently. I would translate it “Those who abide with Him, those who are in union with Him, those who depend upon Him.” When we’re walking through this world and we find ourselves in trouble, we don’t need to be sitting around waiting for God and God doesn’t sit around. He’s ready to move on our behalf. We are in union with Him. That’s what He’s talking about here.

Then the verse says, “shall gain new strength.” That’s not a good translation either. Go check it out for yourself! In the Hebrew, it literally means “exchange.” So as we abide with God, we will exchange our strength for His strength, our mercy for His mercy, our patience for His patience. That’s why we “mount up with wings like eagles and run and not grow weary” because we have exchanged our strength for His strength. That’s the new covenant.

What a glorious new covenant it is! I pray you would know this great exchange. That’s why Hudson Taylor first called it “The Exchanged Life,” and it’s a glorious life. We have become partakers of the divine nature. It doesn’t mean we become God, but it does mean we’re in union with God. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says that “the one who joins himself with the Lord is one spirit with Him.” Which means that we can experience all that He is, all that we need, in the moment of faith. That is a glorious covenant.

Bless you, in Jesus’ name.

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How To Give Thanks When Life Is A Mess

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In the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:18) we’re told, “In everything, give thanks.” Now stop right there. Let’s be honest and let’s not read that casually. That is a startling statement! We live in a world where a lot of nasty things happen. And God didn’t say “in all the good things give thanks,” He said “in everything give thanks.” Let’s notice what else He did not say. He did not say “for everything, give thanks.” There are a lot of things that come into my life that are not good. They come in a fallen world with devastation as their goal and it’s so wonderful that God does not call me to thank Him for the pain that comes into my life. He didn’t say “for everything,” He said “in everything.”

Now what does that mean? It means that I am going to choose to believe that God is going to fulfill His promise. I choose to believe that He is so powerful that all things will work together for good in my life as I trust Him. So what comes into my life as pain I can fight against it. It’s going to cause me emotional turmoil but I can bring it into harmony with what God says He will do and who God is. And when my life is hard I can say, “In this, I’m going to give thanks because this is not the end of the story.” Remember what the Bible says, “God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). God will take the ashes and He’ll bring beauty out of them. He’s going to take the sorrow and the suffering and put it around your neck as a garland of praise.

I love what He says to the widow in the book of Isaiah, “You will not remember the bitterness of your widowhood” (54:4). Now, that’s so cool because it’s so honest. He doesn’t say “You’re going to forget your widowhood.” He says, “You won’t remember the bitterness of it. I’m going to bring good out of it.” So we don’t live in a fairytale world where bad things don’t happen. We don’t have to say “Oh, I’m doing great. My mother just died.” That’s stupidity! No, we can say “My mother just died and it broke my heart and the tears are streaming down my cheeks, but that’s not the end of the story.” That’s the key. It’s not the end of the story. We are the people of the good ending. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). It’s good! That’s why in everything we can give thanks and we can live a thankful life today.

Bring to God whatever comes into your life by faith and trust Him that even if it’s bad, it’s going to end good because of who He is. In the Psalms it says “He is good and does only good” (Psalm 119:68).That’s a God I can trust. That’s a God you can trust.

Walk in faith today, my friend, in Jesus’ name.

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God Doesn’t Care Who You Used To Be

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Throughout the book of Ruth, Ruth has been given an established identity. You know the story. Naomi and her husband Elimelech moved during a famine to Moab. Moab was an arch enemy of Israel and in fact, in the Old Testament it said a Moabite is not allowed in the assembly of God. While they were there, Elimelech died and Naomi’s two sons married Moabites. Then her two sons died and Naomi finally came home. And she brought her daughter-in-law, Ruth, a Moabite, home with her to Israel. And so throughout the whole story of her life in Israel, the writer of Ruth calls her “Ruth the Moabitess,” “Ruth the Moabitess,” “Ruth the Moabitess.” He gives her an identity based on her birth—based on her race. You know, the world is always giving us identities. The enemy is always trying to give us an identity based on our behavior, based on things we’ve done. But in the third chapter of Ruth an amazing thing takes place. Boaz one of the princes of Israel marries Ruth. And he stands in the city gates and tells everyone “Ruth the Moabitess...she will be my wife” (Ruth 4:10). She will be my bride. He doesn’t try to hide it. He doesn’t try to cover it. He uses the name of shame and he says, “She will be my bride.” Do you see what’s happening there? Boaz is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and He says to us through Boaz and Ruth, “I don’t care where you’re from. I don’t care what your race, I don’t care what your economic status is, I don’t care what you’ve done, how many times you’ve done it, who you did it with, where you did it. It does not matter what shame you bear. I want you to be My bride.” And the great glory that is in Ephesians chapter five is that He washes us clean. He cleanses us and He makes us beautiful brides (Ephesians 5:26).

I’m a beautiful bride. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in my life—I’m a beautiful bride. And if you’ll put your faith in Jesus Christ, you will become a beautiful bride too. And if you’ve already put your faith in Jesus Christ, you already are a beautiful bride. So stop identifying yourself as a Moabite! Stop identifying yourself by your former way of life. Stand tall in the glory that you are married to the Lord Jesus Christ as His bride, the church.

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What Legacy Are You Leaving?

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Heritage. Legacy. Ponder those words.

Where did King David, beloved King of Israel, author of the Psalms, a man after God’s own heart get his amazing heart?

Let’s start tracing back. Let’s look at where he came from. One of his ancestors was a woman named Ruth. Who was she? She was a Moabitess from a far country, one that was at war with Israel. A woman who, according to Deuteronomy wasn’t even allowed in the assembly of God. In the Book of Ruth Boaz took her as his wife and she was no longer a Moabitess. And where did Boaz get his heart? Well if you trace it back, his daddy was a man named Samon and he loved Rahab the prostitute. Do you begin to get the idea? All these people were touched by grace.

Hearts that have been touched by grace are the only ones that can pass on grace. I believe with all my heart that that’s what made David a man after God’s own heart. He wasn’t born with it. I believe he learned it from others, people who passed it down to him, a man who could unconditionally love a prostitute and a man who could unconditionally love a Moabitess.

It makes you start wondering, what are your kids are learning from you and your heart?

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