A New Creation

It is absolutely incredible that some creatures are created by God to shed their entire external shell to become a new creation! Right down to the little hairs on their face and pinchers on their nosa shell of a bug 2 (2)e!

Jesus’ death on the cross provides forgiveness for a sinner to repent of their sin and shed that sinful shell and become a new creation too!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Romans 10:9 says “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Jesus offers us a new start…to become a new creation in Him.  Praise the Lord for his gracious gift of salvation and the wonderful gift of becoming a new creation in Him.

 

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Grace & Perfection

There are some passages in Scripture that will take an eternity for me to fully fathom.  Second Corinthians 12:9 is one of those passages.  It is a truth statement from the Lord to Paul addressing the nature of His grace in the life of Paul as he deals with the reality of his “thorn in the side”.  The Lord tells Paul

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

I kid you not…it will take an eternity!  There is so much to this verse.

First there is the sufficiency of God’s grace.  Whatever the situation, whatever the need, whatever the sin, whatever the failure, whatever the trial, whatever the time, no matter how high the mountain is or how low the valley goes…His grace is sufficient for me.  His grace covers my sin.  His grace grants me an eternity in His presence.  His grace lets me see past the fog of fear and beyond the perils of pain.  His grace is sufficient when mankind is ungracious.

Second, His grace gives evidence of His perfect power in wren on rosemy weakness!  When I try to fix things on my own, remove the trial on my own, I fail to give God the opportunity to demonstrate His perfect power.  Think about that for a second….my weakness is an opportunity to lean deeper still into His grace…into His perfect power and in that solution there is perfection.  I can do nothing perfectly no matter how hard I might try.  But by trusting in God’s grace in my weakness His perfection thrives.

I still do not understand it fully…but I understand it a little better.  Every day, every trial, every weakness is yet another opportunity for me to look at those “thorns” in my life and to trust wholly in the powerful, all-sufficient, perfect grace of my Lord and Savior.

When Will It All End?

Matthew 24:7-14 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

We read this passage and often we focus our attention on the events that will be happening in the end times.  We read of the wars, famines, earthquakes in the news daily.  We see or perhaps experience persecution and tribulation constantly.  We see people hate each other in some of the most violent and abhorrent ways.  With the reality of all of those truths bombarding our eyes, our minds, our hearts every day, we read with hope and expectation the words of this passage and are encouraged by the conclusion that we must be living in “the end days”.

We are reminded to endure to the end; to persevere in our faith; to run the race so as to win.  Amen and Amen to all of that.  May we all be found enduring, running, battling, striving, abiding in the name of Christ and for His glory and honor.

But if we read all of that and miss the exhortation, no…the command of Christ found in verse 14 then we miss our living purpose.  Christ declares “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”   

The evil and wickedness that pervades our world will not stop the truth of the gospel of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ from being proclaimed.  It must be proclaimed!  IT WILL BE PROCLAIMED!  But it isn’t going to happen on its own.  God expects us to be His mouthpiece to the nations of the world.  Second Corinthians 5:20 says as ambassadors for Christ, God is “…making his appeal through us.”

The assurance and hope that is found in Christ’s return, that time when the end will come, is directly related to our proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world; proclaiming the truth about Jesus’ amazing grace.  The truth of His loving sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of sins is the hope that this world needs.

Let’s get busy and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and tell others what He has done for us so that the world may hear, so that our testimony may go to ALL NATIONS, and then He will return!

 

Just Another Bill

I enjoy technology and the many benefits that it brings.  Microwaves, cell phones, cameras, Bluetooth gadgets, and the like all have a place in my life these days.  Like many folks my age, I amphone from an age group of transitional folks that have gone from having a 4 digit phone number with a rotary dial phone stuck on the wall as a kid, to a cell phone that has more technical capabilities built into it than my entire high school did just a few decades ago.  But along with all of the benefits that these technical wonders bring, come risks and dangers.  phone

Many folks run their entire life from their phone.  Bank accounts, investment portfolios, electronic bill pay, contact lists, calendars, emails, songs, pictures, events, games, thoughts, books, home utility management system, home security access, and remote pet video camera, are just a few of the many items living on many folks tiny portable devices.  And then they lose it and their world comes apart.  Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!  I digress…

Perhaps one of the more convenient and time saving things that has become more popular in the past 25 years or so is online bill pay.  Whether it is your electric bill, your mortgage, or a one time gift to a favorite charity or “GoFundMe” page, whatever the cause or amount, you can set up a payment of that bill so that the money is paid out on time.  You can just “set it and forget it”.

So what about online giving of tithes and offerings at church?  Is it evil or a blessing?  My thought on it is this…it is just a tool.  Much like our cell phones, it is just a tool to be used by us in a manner that brings glory to God.  How we use it, how we think about it, makes all the difference.  Being able to be faithful in giving to the Lord by setting up auto-pay may help some folks to be more regular or consistent in their giving.  For younger generations, where a paper checkbook is as antiquated as the rotary phone I used to use, the ability to give online is a basic expectation for a church to be current and relevant.

What really matters in all of this is our heart condition as we approach giving of ourselves in the form of finances to the Lord.  One particular passages in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:7, helps to explain the importance and approach to  understanding God’s will regarding the “why” and “how much” we give back (not give) to the Lord.  IT says “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  Another passage, James 1:5, gives us the biblical approach on how to make that determination in your heart regarding giving.  It says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

As much as I love putting our family offering into the plate each week, I expect we will make the change to online giving.  It won’t change or diminish our worship of the Lord in any way.  It certainly will not change the manner in which my wife and I approach prayerfully considering and determining what will be given back to the Lord.  The truth is, everything we have is His in the first place…we are just stewards of it while we are here and while He gives us the opportunity to manage it.

At the end of the day, if technology helps us to be more faithful in our giving by doing it online, great!  We just must make absolutely certain that our worship through giving can never be a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.  We can never develop an attitude where tithing is just another bill to be paid.