Henry Blackaby wrote, “He will lead you to do things that are absolutely impossible in your own strength. But God will grant you victory, step by step, as you obey Him.” Have you seen God do the impossible in your life? Unfortunately, I believe many Christians never experience this wonderful reality, because they are afraid to be totally sold out to God. They love Him, they worship Him, they are fine with going to church, but they let fear keep them from being totally faithful and obedient to Him. Statistics show that the vast majority of Christians have never shared their faith. Many don’t see their faith as much more than just another category in the vast list of other responsibilities they carry in life. But what an awful tragedy this really is. If we have truly trusted in Jesus and given Him our lives, then we have committed to a grand adventure. No, it is not an adventure that the world would think of, but it is a grand adventure nonetheless. We are called to a life that has a grand purpose, to bring God glory. When we are driven to live a life that gives God glory, we will see amazing things happen. Through our abandonment of self, we will see God change other people’s lives. Through our faithfulness, God will save souls, bring healing to the sink, and provide hope for the broken. It truly is an adventure that can go beyond anything we could expect to do on our own. But it requires a willingness from us. A willingness to not put ourselves first, but to do what Jesus would want us to do first. This is the life we truly have been called to, but so few really experience. So friend, let me ask are you seeing the impossible happen in your life or are you just trying to get by?
A wise man once said, “There are many people who are not actually liars, but they keep a respectful distance from the truth.” Have you ever met people who are not exactly straightforward liars, but they are dishonest people nonetheless? These are people who are not trustworthy, people who lack integrity. Trust is a precious commodity, in that once it is lost it is very hard to gain it back. As followers of Jesus, we must not be known as dishonest people. We must be honest with our words, our actions, and our motivations. We must aim to live to a higher standard than the world around us; we must seek to live honorably. We must be able to say with Paul, “for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” – 2 Cor. 8:21 ESV. Our faith needs to be constant in our dealings with God and with people. We must strive to be more than just “Sunday Christians.” And the best place to start with such constancy is to become trustworthy people.
When you read through the account of Jesus’ arrest in the gospel of Luke, you find a very gripping detail about Jesus and Peter. In chapter 22, Peter denies Christ 3 times, just as Jesus had predicted that he would. But then after the rooster crowed, we read these words, “Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Vs. 61a CSB). What a chilling moment for Peter. Just hours earlier, he had promised to go to prison or even death for the Lord, and now he has been caught cowardly denying ever knowing Jesus. I’m sure when those beautiful piercing eyes of Jesus connected with his, Peter’s heart melted on the spot. He had failed and worse yet he had denied his Lord. As a result, we read that “he went outside and wept bitterly” (Vs. 62 CSB). Yet what amazes me about this account is that the same eyes that brought stabbing conviction also were eyes of compassion. In the gospel of Mark, on resurrection morning, the angel told the women to “tell his disciples and Peter” (16:7a CSB). It is significant that this messenger of the Lord was pointing out Peter. By doing so he was sending a message to Peter. That message was “Jesus still want you.” This message was made real to Peter by the lake shore, when the resurrected Jesus loving restored Peter back to his role as an apostle (See John 21:15-19). So why is all of this supposed to be captivating for us? This same Jesus, who lovingly forgave and restored Peter, will lovingly forgive and restore us. We may think that the Lord’s eyes are piercing us right down to our very sins, but His beautiful eyes long to show us mercy. If you have blown it, don’t think that Jesus has given up on you. He loves you, He died for you, and even when you fail, He still wants you. So get back up my friend, and trust fully in the wonderful love of Jesus. If you have never committed your life to Jesus, then why not do it today? If you are a follower of Christ but have fallen in your walk, take courage. Jesus sees you, but it is through eyes of love.
The other day I was watching an old episode of Gunsmoke with my Dad. At the close of this particular episode, an old cowboy said to his sons, “I’m prouder of who I am than what I am.” As I heard those words, I thought to myself, “Me too.” Many people work tirelessly to make a name for themselves. They seek to be admired and remembered for their great achievements. But in the end, life is not about all that you did, but who you are. Maybe, you have a life full of wonderful achievements or maybe your life has been filled with endless mistakes. When we all stand before God, it won’t matter much about what we have done, as much as it will matter about who we are. What do I mean by all of this? The Bible makes it clear, that we are all either children of God or children of the devil. To be a child of God requires that we humbly admit to our sin and mistakes, and turn away from that old life. It means that we trust that Jesus Christ died for sins and rose again to provide for our forgiveness and a right standing with God. On the other hand, to be a child of the devil doesn’t require anything from you at all. If you continue down the road of your natural life and ignore the message of Jesus, then all you will have to present to God when you die are all your great achievements. The problem is everything we do is tainted by our sin. And if we stay that course, all we will hear is the Lord saying to us, “I never knew you.” Oh, how tragic of a thought. So like that old cowboy, let me ask, “Are you prouder of who you are than what you are?”
With the passing of Billy Graham, our nation has lost more than a generational icon. We have lost one of the greatest evangelist of our time. Yet even Billy Graham knew that all of his great accomplishments would not get him into heaven. We know this is true by what he preached. Once Rev. Graham declared, “I will not go to heaven because I am a preacher. I am going to heaven entirely on the merit of the work of Christ.” You see what he knew and what he proclaimed, was that all that Jesus did on the cross was sufficient enough to provide for us eternal life and a home in heaven. God is not looking for great works of merit or good deeds for us to earn a spot in heaven. By His grace alone, can we obtain forgiveness for our sins and new life. Thus all we can do is turn away from this life of sin and turn to Jesus by faith. This was the central message of Billy Graham’s life and it is the most important message any of us need.
Why should we support missions? Why is it the Christian’s concern what happens to the people around them and in far-off lands? The answer should be plain and simple, but for many folks, it’s not. For some, I’m sure they just don’t give much thought to missions. To others, there may be an inward focus; “I’ve got my own troubles to worry about.” Nevertheless, these reasons or excuses do not negate the responsibility of every Christian to be concerned with missions. Why? Because if we are truly disciples of Jesus, then we will develop a heart like Jesus. We live in a world full of people who are spiritually lost and without hope. Every second of every day, people slip into eternity. Those who exit this life without Jesus, face eternal damnation. If we truly believe that, it should prick our hearts to help advance the cause that carries the only solution to this problem. If we have truly been saved from such as horrible destiny, why wouldn’t we want others to experience this sweet salvation as well? Do we truly believe the gospel? Do we truly believe Jesus, when the He says “No man comes to the Father but through me”? If our hearts are right with Jesus, then we will have a yearning for the nations. We should have a desire to see more and more people come to a saving relationship with the Lord. Therefore, those who aren’t sent to the nations, equip those who are sent to go. Now, this doesn’t mean that we aren’t to be missionaries in our own backyards and neighborhood because all Christians carry this responsibility. But we should each take up the example given to us by the New Testament church and support our modern day Pauls and Tomthys and Lukes. Missions is the best investment we can earthly make because we will spend an eternity enjoying the dividends. So yes, we support missions and the reason for it is because we love Jesus.
Earlier this week I was reading about Jesus’ interactions with the people of His hometown of Nazareth in Mark 6. From that text, we read about Jesus being unable to minister in this city because the people who knew Him growing up rejected Him. But there is a small detail found in verse 6 that really caught my eye. The Scripture says that Jesus “was amazed at their unbelief.” After reading that I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is Jesus ever amazed at my unbelief?” I know there have been occasions in my life when I have been amazed at my own unbelief. Those seasons in my life when I wasted so much time fretting and doubting about my circumstances. Those times when I went about worrying and trying to control outcomes, knowing in the back of my mind God is the real one in control. While yes it is true that Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the Nazarenes, the wonderful truth is this. Jesus doesn’t hold grudges. While we may faultier in our faith, Jesus never fails in His faithfulness. So instead of living day in and day out wondering how much we have disappointed the Lord, as Christians, we need to embrace the wonderful reality of His grace. It is true that we become weak in faith and that we do sin daily, but it is also equally true that through Christ, God doesn’t see a bunch of disappointment when He sees us. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, God now and will always see us as His treasured people. And to that, I truly stand amazed.
Someone wisely observed, “God will never let anything come your way that you and He can’t handle.” What makes this a wise statement is the phrase “and He.” Too many times people will claim that God won’t bring anything into your life that you can’t handle, but that simply isn’t true. There are many things that happen to us in this life that we would not be able to overcome them, except for the grace of God. Thus, I believe there are times that God allows some pretty big and tough situations to come our way because He knows we can’t handle it. Those specific circumstances are designed to point us up back to Him. Why would God do that? Because many times we become independent in our own eyes and we forget that we desperately need God in everything we do. So yes, I do believe that you can handle anything that comes your way, but only if God is with you as you go through it.
Someone once said, “A highbrow is one who is educated beyond his intelligence.” Too many people in the world have a very warped perception of themselves. Yes, there are those who have a very poor opinion of who they are, but this is not healthy nor is it the social norm. However, I believe there are far more people who think too highly of themselves then they should. This is a trait that is unbecoming and it too is very unhealthy, especially for the Christian. The Apostle Paul gave us a very helpful warning on this when he wrote, “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” – Romans 12:3b NLT. You see no amount of education or social status matters in the eyes of Christ. We are each equally guilty of sin and each Christian has come to faith only by the Grace of God. So the next time we are tempted to exercise the “highbrow”, we need to remember we are not as great as we might think
It’s been said, “If hard work is the key to success, many people would rather pick the lock.” There truly a correlation between hard work and success. This same principle can be found in Scripture as well. “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” – Proverbs 14:23 (NIV). Therefore, if we want success at work, at home, or even at church, it will require hard work on our part. Too many times people want to talk about how good it would be to have success, but they are unwilling to work for it. Yet, that is no way to live. God has given us great opportunities, we must be committed to doing what ever it takes to achieve great success.