Nonsense?

So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. -1 Corinthians 1:23 (NLT)

The depraved mind of those who have not been called by God to hear and know the gospel message is evident as discussed in 1 Corinthians 1:23. It is not just that God offers us a plan of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus, He makes a way for us to understand the offer and accept it by drawing us to Him. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. -John 6:44 (ESV)

Once our eyes our open and we see the miraculous grace shared with us by our Heavenly Father, we are free to receive it and begin to grow through it to a closer walk with Jesus and a fruitful, abundant life. This is not to say that are abundant life is filled with the things of this world, which will rust and rot and eventually fade away, but rather a life filled with the peace of mind and happiness that can only come from a solid walk with Jesus. There are many engaged in the prosperity game who teach a ‘name it and claim it’ gospel that just doesn’t hold up in the light of scripture. We shouldn’t give to “sew seeds” and plan to reap a material harvest much greater than our original gift. That’s not the point of giving to others. As children of the most high God, we should be happy to give to others in need, feeling really good about sharing the love of Jesus not just in word, but in deed! It’s not about me giving you 10 so I get a 100 back, it’s about me giving you 10 because it’s what you need.

Preaching Christ crucified means being prepared to be crucified along with Him:  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

So, if preaching Christ crucified is nonsense, count me in. It makes much more sense than the true nonsense that is the teaching of this world.

Happy Easter to all. I pray it may have the same meaning for you as it does for me.

We are all set!

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
    nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
    he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

-Psalm 103: 8-13 (NLT)

There is so much one can write about just those few verses! Fortunately for the reader, I don’t have the time to write everything I would like to write about them! So, I’ll just touch on some highlights.

I have been guilty of bringing up the same accusations over and over, even if the matter is supposed to be long since settled. I file things away in my mind under the category “To use in anger.” While I may be better than I used to be, I still have a long way to go. Thank God that He does not deal with me as I sometimes deal with others.

I can hold on to resentment, still being bitter and angry toward someone long after the offense has been committed — and I think I have “let it go.” A case in point is a family member I struggle with who I feel has wronged me and my wife. I sometimes get angry all over again when I think of the things he has said and done. Today I asked my Father to help me not only forgive them, but to look where I was wrong and be prepared to ask forgiveness, should the opportunity arise. While that may not be easy, I know it is essential to my walk with our Lord.

Quite often, I have asked forgiveness for things I have already received it for. I suspect that is something we all have done from time to time. Satan loves it when I hang on to guilt and struggle with accepting the fact that my loving Father in Heaven has already forgiven me because of the work of His Son on the cross.

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
    and will never think of them again. -Isaiah 43:25 (NLT)

Father, forgive me for not having faith enough to remember Your precious Word. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, I am forgiven and my sins are blotted out. May I always remember that You have removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Please open my eyes when the enemy tries to minimize your incredible grace and love for me as your child, hindering me from being effective in your service as a witness to others.

 

He Chose Us

If you are a Christian, it is not because of anything you did to obtain your salvation. I think that is a huge fact to be clear on in our understanding of the matter. As people, we all-too-often ascribe to ourselves more power and authority than we ought to. It is important to remember that, as fallen beings, we are too depraved* to desire having a relationship with God on our own. God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place and then draws us to Jesus for our salvation. Do you fill the tug at your heart? Are you tired of asking yourself what it is all about and feeling that emptiness we all feel apart from Christ? If so, it sounds like He is calling you.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
-Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)

  The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it? -Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)

Please don’t think you were born pure and somehow the world did this to you…
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. -Psalm 51:5 (NIV)

So, we’re sinful from birth, deceived by our own hearts and beyond cure. How do we ever find our way to God? We find the answer in John 6:  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. -John 6:44 (NIV)

*Deviating from what is considered moral, right, proper or good (courtesy of WordWeb)

Pure GRACE through FAITH

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” -Romans 1:16-17 (NIV)

Lately I have been getting a repeated message coming to me: As Christians, we are saved through faith in God and His tremendous GRACE. What Jesus did alone has justified us. That is the true gospel. Sadly, many churches today do not preach the true gospel, but mix grace in with some sort of works that must be done (or at least one must strive for) in order to please God and enter His kingdom. Quite often, preachers and teachers try to scare people into accepting Christ as their savior. On more than one occasion, I have heard some very descriptive sermons about hell. Is hell important? Of course. Jesus spent way too much time bringing up the subject for it not to be. Will it motivate someone to accept Jesus as their Savior? Maybe. But that does not seem to be what He wants. He wants us to love Him as He loves us. Teaching on the subject of hell certainly has its place in Christian theology, but it is our Heavenly Father who draws us to Him (John 6:44). We know that it is not God’s intention that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Embrace His love and see the foolishness of life without Him. That is my prayer for those of you who may happen on this page and don’t know Jesus as I do.

Two Views

My wife and I watched the State of the Union address last night and some of the commentary afterward. After the official Democratic rebuttal, one of the commentators said there were two distinctly different views of America offered between both sides. Both see their side as right and the other as foolish.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. -1 Corinthians 1:18 (CSB)

The comment last night about two different views on the same subject got me thinking about the two prevalent world views we have: one with God and one without. To those of us who are Christian, we see the moral decay of America (and the world) as a bad thing that is harmful to humanity and an affront to God. The world, however, sees this decay as some sort of freedom from religious tyranny and refers to much of the immorality as “acts of love.” Sadly, this world of unbelievers sees us as fools. Yet, the moral decay of any society has always preceded its destruction. Who is really being foolish?

So what can we do to change this dismal world view of us and our beliefs/values? Witness. Tell our stories. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. -Romans 1:16 (CSB)

We as Christians know that the motivating factor for God’s law is His incredible love for us. As Christians, we are not a glum lot opposed to laughing, loving and having fun when we can. We are opposed to acting in a manner that is contrary to God’s law for us and often causes us to do harm to ourselves.

Jesus made me an offer I could not refuse. I thought I had it ‘going on’ in my younger years. I was on a path of destruction. He saved me from that. I found out that the things I thought were sometimes ideas planted by demons to convince me I was unworthy of God’s love and would never be able to have a personal relationship with Him. Satan, who often mixes lies with truth (2 Cor. 11:14-15) to make his stuff seem more believable was right about one thing: by myself, I am unworthy. Fortunately, Jesus died on the cross for me and took care of all that. It wasn’t just me He died for, it was you too. Are you aware of that?

Dumbing It Down…

When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (HCSB)

The church I attend has begun focusing on 1 Corinthians in recent weeks. Yesterday, the first 10 verses of 1 Corinthians 2 were discussed. So often in my life, I have considered [in my own arrogance] myself to be somewhat of an intellectual. I have placed a great deal of importance on my level of intelligence and those I associate with. I have come to realize how important it was for me in my life to “dumb it down” and accept things on faith that God has revealed to my spirit. By the way, I have discovered that I am not as smart as I think I am, and wisdom that is not applied to one’s life is wasted on unbelief!

At this point in my walk, I have discovered a great necessity to simply follow the example that Paul set and preach only “Christ — and Him crucified” to those who will listen. The deep theological discussions of doctrine and eschatology can wait for another day, and have no saving power in and of themselves. If I can resist the temptation to debate such things, I can focus on the core message of the Gospel — Jesus and what He did for us and continues to do today.

I am not about to criticize those who devote much time and attention to such things as what Revelation is trying to teach us about end times or whether or not dispensation theology has merit, among other debates. If we could perhaps leave such topics alone for a while and devote our lives to preaching Christ crucified, it would go along way in healing our divisions and thwarting the plans of the devil. Don’t you agree?