Friday, December 13, 2013

The Power of Prayer -- Sunday Teaser


We are told to "Pray without ceasing" in 1st Thessalonians 5:17. But why? What good does it do? God already knows everything so it's not like we are informing Him of needs which He is not aware. If it's not for God, then, logically, it must be for us. How does praying benefit us? And I'm not just talking about getting what we ask for. I mean just the ACT itself. Join us Sunday morning as we consider "The Power of Prayer (James 5:16-17)." We must understand that God answers ALL prayer in His own time ("no" or "not now" is an answer). Then, we will be encouraged to trust in His wisdom when we are tempted to be impatient or frustrated. Come back Sunday evening as we attempt to understand "The Privilege of Prayer (1st Timothy 2:1-4)." By examining how to pray and who to pray for, we will see that we have a joyous duty to pray on behalf of others. Christians have access to an enormous power source through prayer and we must be generous in using it. Hope to see you there.



[To listen to the audio recording related to this post, click on the audio link on the right side of the blog screen under "Sermon Audio", The Power of Prayer -- Dec 15, 2013.]

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jesus Loves Me

Sunday teaser:
Colossians 3:16 encourages us to teach one another with the songs we sing. We can learn much from the lyrics of great hymns like "How Great Thou Art" and "The Old, Rugged Cross." I would suggest that we can learn a great deal from kids' songs as well. They are not quite so simple and childish as we might think. Join us Sunday morning as we examine the verses of "Jesus Loves Me" and remember this comforting and profound truth. Then, return with us Sunday evening for "A Great Epitaph (Acts 10:38)." Peter summed up the ministry of Jesus by saying "He went about doing good." What words or actions should we strive to be remembered for?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Welcome Lester Family

The Maryville Church of Christ is pleased to welcome Rob and Stacy Lester and family to the Maryville congregation. Rob recently accepted a preaching position with the congregation. We trust they will find Maryville a warm and welcoming place to live and we look forward to the studies and weekly lessons that will be presented.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Following Jesus

'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Is following God’s will important to you? When asked many will say it is important, but the real question is, “Is it the most important call in your life or are there other things more important?” or “Do you put God’s will on the back burner while you focus on your own will?” These are questions that demand a sincere answer from the deepest realm of our heart. If following Christ is our highest priority in life then His will must be the most important facet of life. We must make accomplishing His will our top priority.

Accomplishing the Father’s will should be the focus of any child of God. His will has provided us with His grace to give us what we don’t deserve. His will has given us His mercy to see that we don’t get what we do deserve. Paul said it like this: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God’s grace and mercy has delivered us from the burden of earning anything from Him. He gives life as a free gift through His grace. Through His mercy He delivers us from our earnings, which is what sin produces in us, death. Because of the vast display of love shown through these attributes of God, we are faithful to His will (Romans 1:14).

But the call to faithfulness is what we receive within God’s will and that causes some to shy away from total dedication to its purpose: “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Devotion to God’s will separates us from those who live for their own desires and has given us opportunity to walk in His light. God knows that man cannot direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23) so He dressed His love in flesh to guide mankind’s steps in His truth. The truth is His word (John 17:17) and truth is what will set us free from Satan’s power of sin and death (John 8:32). Being humble and allowing God’s will to change us gives God’s grace the power to mold us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). When we are walking in the Light of His love we are permitting God to create in us “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17), molded by the pattern of His Son. This new creation makes faithfulness a worthy call to follow.

God’s will for His children is that we allow His Spirit to work in us “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). As we see the manner of life in which Jesus lived, we can easily conclude that accomplishing God’s will is what His life is all about: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). To be conformed to the image of Christ is to die to our own desires and set out to accomplish the work God has given us in this life to carry out. We have been given life to know God and to set our minds to fully fulfill His will in the words we speak and the works we do. When we allow our flesh to dictate how we live, we refuse God’s work in us and that causes us to remain in the image of the world. We must die to live for God.

If you are a disciple of Jesus then you are willing to give your life to fulfill the will of God who “called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). You are willing to let go of anything that may hinder your relationship with God. You cannot seek God’s will half-heartedly, at least if following Jesus is truly important to you.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, July 19, 2013

Damaging Sin

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

Worldly minded people do not recognize sin as being as destructive as it truly is to our relationship with God, but the fact remains that sin destroys any chance for us to be close to God: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). But the God we serve is willing to forgive sin through His grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12). We know God’s grace is there for us but we must also understand God’s grace as His willingness to provide a way for us to overcome sin. Although this is God’s desire for us we must choose to stay free from sin by responding to His grace.

In Numbers 15 we can see that God makes a distinction of sin. He reveals two types of sin as being willful sin and sin done in ignorance. David reveals his understanding of this concept of categorized sin in verses 12 and 13 of the 19th Psalm. He voiced his frustration at his inability to mold his life according to God’s pattern. He also asks for forgiveness and strength to avoid habitual patterns of the willful rejection of God’s way: “Also keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression (Psalm 19:13). God wants us to love Him so much that we will deny our fleshly desires and choose His way.

Satan has made sin to look so tempting it has become easy to entangle our lives within its grip. He has made what used to be obvious now seem hidden. His deceitful disguise of sin has hardened our hearts to the effects of its power. He has used avenues such as our televisions and government offices to hide the sting of sin’s demonic characteristics (Ephesians 2:2). Our weakness is our own desires and the world will take every advantage needed to use our weakness to tempt us to fill our lives with whatever Satan can use to keep us separated from God. His trickery is not easy to comprehend so we must be on guard (1 Peter 5:8) as he has only one goal and that is to destroy our souls. Pay attention to what God has given us as truth so we can escape the attack of the evil one’s schemes and avoid the judgment he would love to lead us into.

Even though the church has been accused of everything from legalism to judgmental, she prays for everyone to follow God’s pattern of life. We know that God has provided His truth so we can know where we stand in our relationship with Him: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). He has also revealed to us sin and how it works in our lives to keep us from being faithful to truth: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). We can know the right thing to do by allowing Jesus’ teachings to change who we submit to as authority (John 8:32). Being ignorant to God’s way is no longer an acceptable excuse: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). Ignorance is not being stupid, but not knowing. We can know what God wants in us. God is willing to forgive our sins when we are willing to learn His truth.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, July 12, 2013

Godly Examples


“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).

If we want to lead others to Christ we must make a decision to be dedicated to the deeds required of faithful living. God’s plan of salvation is founded on godliness. It was offered to us through a man that lived His life as a sacrifice to His Father’s will and He is our example to follow. As Timothy struggled in his ministry, Paul gave him some sound instructions to follow to help him find success in the work he was called to do. If we will study this passage, we will find some sound words to enhance our faithful walk.

Teaching God’s life is not an easy task as it requires diligent effort to make sure our own lives are right with God. Notice we said “God’s life” because it is a different lifestyle than the life that is taught by those not in Christ. It is a life founded on godly love and obedience at all costs: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If we love the life that God delivered to us we must be the example of faithful living.

One way we can see to be an example is in our speech. Words can be destructive as well as constructive. The difference in the outcome is in the love they are spoken. We should always make sure to use words to build up the house of God and never to tear it down: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Our words must be constructive not destructive.

Also we should strive to be the example of godly love. This is where we lose most of the world. Godly love is not just words, but a verb meaning it requires action. John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible but arguably the most misused. God’s love didn’t stop at being mentioned. It acted by sending the Savior to this earth to bring life to the dead souls that filled the world. Through agape love God acted upon His grace to set the plan of salvation in motion. He not only loved the world but put love into action by sending Jesus to, not only die for us, but leave us an example to follow. He called us out of the world to be the continuation of that love as we search for the lost to bring them life.

As God’s children we are called to be the example of the “one faith” Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4:5. There are many different faiths in the world but God only recognizes the one true faith that entails obedient trust. We are to live in a joyful spirit at all times to reveal our trust in God to see us through the trials we face (James 1:2-3). God rewards faith and He cannot be pleased without it (Hebrews 11:6). Christians are the example of the “one faith” as they rely on God’s power to save them from sin and death.

Finally, we are to be the example of God’s purity which can only be attained by faith. God called us out of an impure world to be pure, refined through fire (Zechariah 13:9). We are not promised an easy life following Christ. In fact, we are told we will face many obstacles trying to live a pure life. Satan tries to make impurity seem good, but the truth is, he is a liar (John 10:10). Living faithfully makes you an example of purity for others to follow. Being an example makes you a follower of our Example of pure faith.

In His Grace,
Cub

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Teacher

“I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes” (Psalm 119:26).

Teachers are very important in every aspect of life. Just think how ineffective you would be in life if there was no one able to teach you. How effective could you be in your work if there was no training for your position? You could not be good at what you do without an example to follow or a person to show you the ways of your occupation. And what about parenting? If we do not have good examples to follow we are not going to be very good parents ourselves. And in our spiritual life if we do not have an example we are the blind leading the blind. We need good teachers to show us how to follow Jesus. Paul encouraged the church to follow his example: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul’s words show that if we want to be good teachers we need to be great followers of the Example that is in Christ.

The world is full of people who can teach. But what makes a good teacher in the Lord’s kingdom is someone who is humble enough to be taught: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” (Matthew 11:29). God is looking for people who will take His yoke so they can teach His way and not the ways of the world. This kind of teacher is born of a different seed: “[F]or you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). God has made His abundant life available to His church through their faith in His plan. They have dedicated their lives to becoming the person that God wants them to be and have died to the old ways to be molded by the “logic” of God. When this decision is solidified in the hearts and minds of the individual it is made evident to the people around them: “[S]o that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 1:27). God’s church teaches the world by being taught by God.

To teach God’s word we must not only take Jesus’ yoke upon us, but we must also learn what He teaches. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different beliefs in the world even though in Ephesians 4:1-4 God states that there is only one faith? The reason for this is as simple to the faithful believer as first grade arithmetic is to a rocket scientist. Not many in this world are humble enough to accept the fact that we as humans do not have the ability to know God’s way: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Mankind has a great desire, maybe even a lust, to be independent. Although this is an achievement in the physical life it is a mistake in our spiritual walk with God. He dressed His love in flesh and sent Him to earth so we could learn two things. One is to know how to love and the other is to know how to be loved: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we are going to be teachers of God’s way then we first need to learn His love.

Teaching is not just the ability to get facts out to others, but it is being able to teach others how to use effectively what is being taught. As the Lord’s church we must be willing to learn from Jesus as He totally dedicated His life to fulfilling His Father’s will. And when we say totally dedicated we mean there were no limits to His willingness to follow God: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). It has been said that God only had one Son and He was a teacher. He taught us by being obedient (Hebrews 5:8-9). Let us be eager to learn all we can about the true Person of the Christ so we can avoid the false teachings that entrap the souls of the world.

In His Grace,
Cub

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Godly Examples


“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).

If we want to lead others to Christ we must make a decision to be dedicated to the deeds required of faithful living. God’s plan of salvation is founded on godliness. It was offered to us through a man that lived His life as a sacrifice to His Father’s will and He is our example to follow. As Timothy struggled in his ministry, Paul gave him some sound instructions to follow to help him find success in the work he was called to do. If we will study this passage, we will find some sound words to enhance our faithful walk.

Teaching God’s life is not an easy task as it requires diligent effort to make sure our own lives are right with God. Notice we said “God’s life” because it is a different lifestyle than the life that is taught by those not in Christ. It is a life founded on godly love and obedience at all costs: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If we love the life that God delivered to us we must be the example of faithful living.

One way we can see to be an example is in our speech. Words can be destructive as well as constructive. The difference in the outcome is in the love they are spoken. We should always make sure to use words to build up the house of God and never to tear it down: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Our words must be constructive not destructive.

Also we should strive to be the example of godly love. This is where we lose most of the world. Godly love is not just words, but a verb meaning it requires action. John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible but arguably the most misused. God’s love didn’t stop at being mentioned. It acted by sending the Savior to this earth to bring life to the dead souls that filled the world. Through agape love God acted upon His grace to set the plan of salvation in motion. He not only loved the world but put love into action by sending Jesus to, not only die for us, but leave us an example to follow. He called us out of the world to be the continuation of that love as we search for the lost to bring them life.

As God’s children we are called to be the example of the “one faith” Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4:5. There are many different faiths in the world but God only recognizes the one true faith that entails obedient trust. We are to live in a joyful spirit at all times to reveal our trust in God to see us through the trials we face (James 1:2-3). God rewards faith and He cannot be pleased without it (Hebrews 11:6). Christians are the example of the “one faith” as they rely on God’s power to save them from sin and death.

Finally, we are to be the example of God’s purity which can only be attained by faith. God called us out of an impure world to be pure, refined through fire (Zechariah 13:9). We are not promised an easy life following Christ. In fact, we are told we will face many obstacles trying to live a pure life. Satan tries to make impurity seem good, but the truth is, he is a liar (John 10:10). Living faithfully makes you an example of purity for others to follow. Being an example makes you a follower of our Example of pure faith.

In His Grace,
Cub

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teacher


“I have told of my ways, and You have answered me; Teach me Your statutes” (Psalm 119:26).

Teachers are very important in every aspect of life. Just think how ineffective you would be in life if there was no one able to teach you. How effective could you be in your work if there was no training for your position? You could not be good at what you do without an example to follow or a person to show you the ways of your occupation. And what about parenting? If we do not have good examples to follow we are not going to be very good parents ourselves. And in our spiritual life if we do not have an example we are the blind leading the blind. We need good teachers to show us how to follow Jesus. Paul encouraged the church to follow his example: “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul’s words show that if we want to be good teachers we need to be great followers of the Example that is in Christ.

The world is full of people who can teach. But what makes a good teacher in the Lord’s kingdom is someone who is humble enough to be taught: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” (Matthew 11:29). God is looking for people who will take His yoke so they can teach His way and not the ways of the world. This kind of teacher is born of a different seed: “[F]or you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). God has made His abundant life available to His church through their faith in His plan. They have dedicated their lives to becoming the person that God wants them to be and have died to the old ways to be molded by the “logic” of God. When this decision is solidified in the hearts and minds of the individual it is made evident to the people around them: “[S]o that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 1:27). God’s church teaches the world by being taught by God.

To teach God’s word we must not only take Jesus’ yoke upon us, but we must also learn what He teaches. Have you ever wondered why there are so many different beliefs in the world even though in Ephesians 4:1-4 God states that there is only one faith? The reason for this is as simple to the faithful believer as first grade arithmetic is to a rocket scientist. Not many in this world are humble enough to accept the fact that we as humans do not have the ability to know God’s way: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Mankind has a great desire, maybe even a lust, to be independent. Although this is an achievement in the physical life it is a mistake in our spiritual walk with God. He dressed His love in flesh and sent Him to earth so we could learn two things. One is to know how to love and the other is to know how to be loved: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we are going to be teachers of God’s way then we first need to learn His love.

Teaching is not just the ability to get facts out to others, but it is being able to teach others how to use effectively what is being taught. As the Lord’s church we must be willing to learn from Jesus as He totally dedicated His life to fulfilling His Father’s will. And when we say totally dedicated we mean there were no limits to His willingness to follow God: “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). It has been said that God only had one Son and He was a teacher. He taught us by being obedient (Hebrews 5:8-9). Let us be eager to learn all we can about the true Person of the Christ so we can avoid the false teachings that entrap the souls of the world.
In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, May 17, 2013

Odd Jobs of the Tent Maker


“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Paul was never seen as a lazy man. In fact, he preached against the attitude of slothfulness: “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). He was someone who was never too prideful to ask for help from the church, but he was also never too lazy to give his all to see his own needs being met. His work in the physical side of his life was only outdone by the work he did in the spiritual side. He gave his all to everything associated to the work of the kingdom: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). Paul was a man that never shied away from getting his hand dirty as a worker.

One of his “odd jobs” in his spiritual work was as an accountant. He said he did not consider his life of any account as dear to himself. Accountants have been trained to place proper value on the proper priorities of life. They counsel others on what and what not is worthy of their hard earned dollar. Paul saw his life as a gift from God and he was not going to use it for his own purpose. He understood God as Creator, meaning God gave him life, and he was going to use it for his Lord’s glory and not his own. Also, he did not see it as too valuable to risk for God’s purpose. What he had been given in this life was never his to take credit for so he was going to make sure everything that he owned was going to be used to bring glory and honor to God. He knew any other way of viewing his life would have been a hindrance to accomplishing the Lord’s will.

Another odd job of the tentmaker was that of a runner. He associated his life with a long distance runner. He was going to live in a way that would bring him the prize: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Paul did not see himself as trying to earn God’s prize but knew it would take endurance to complete the race. And that is what a winner is when it comes to the prize of salvation, someone who will endure the pains of the race and finish the course (Revelation 2:10). An ancient event in the Olympics was a race that began with lighting a torch. The runner then would go through a rigorous course of high winds, water and other obstacles that would be set up to put their flame out. The objective was not to be the first runner to complete the course, but to finish the race with the torch still lit. Our course has been set in this world in which we are living. Satan is using the trials in our lives as obstacles to put the flame of our faith out. We must be like Paul and run in a manner that will keep the fire burning brightly.

The final odd job in this text is found in the idea of Paul being a steward. He knew the ministry in which he was toiling was given to him by His Lord. He understood that God had entrusted him to do well with the message of the good news of Christ (1Timothy 1:11). The last thing Paul wanted to do was go to see His God knowing he did not do his best with what God had placed under his stewardship. And we should have the same mindset when it comes to spreading the gospel. God has called us to work and given us the tools we need for victory. The only thing that will cause us to fail is our lack of obligation (Romans 1:14-16). We have been given the same treasure as Paul and we should have the same diligent mindset to do what is right with what God has given each of us. He has given us life. Let’s give our life to see His life in those around us.

In His Grace,
Cub

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Hungry Church

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

It has been said many times that a pregnant woman’s craving is a motivating force for her husband. When she wakes up at two o’clock in the morning and desires pickles and ice cream, like a hungry lion running to catch a gazelle to feed his starving pride, her husband jumps out of bed and will not return until he has obtained the sufficient items to quench this desire. This passion not only reveals his love for his wife but also his love for life. Well, maybe a slight exaggeration but the concept remains true. There are things in life that we will not be hindered from obtaining knowing nothing else will suffice. Hunger is one of the greatest motivators known to the human being for flesh needs food. Spiritually speaking, souls need feeding also.

The church is made up of hungry souls that know what they need to nourish their soul and they will not settle for anything short of the “real thing.” That hunger and thirst for truth is what motivates the church of Christ to learn. Hungering for righteousness drives the church’s search because the reward of discovering truth is a deeper relationship with God. That is why the preacher of the Lord’s message must be concerned about what the congregation is being fed. The souls that are listening are hungry and in need of solid food for the nourishment of their soul.

When the church is hungry they seek God’s teaching so they can observe His commandments: “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end” (Psalm 119:33). We become foolish when we think to find the interpretation of God’s truth in the mindset of flesh. No one but God can make known to flesh the way of holiness that keeps His church separated from the world. And just wanting this teaching is never enough. We must develop inside us a heart-felt necessity for God’s truth. We must know in our hearts that we will die without God’s truth feeding our starving souls. This is the hunger that motivates faithfulness.

We not only hunger for the way of God’s truth but for understanding: “Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart” (Psalm 119:34). David shows a heart for God in this prayer because only a heart that cannot live without God’s approval will seek understanding. Oh, there are many that will come to hear the word of God preached, but their desire stops there. Only a soul searching for the way to please God will commit to understanding. This is the reason James reminds us to prove ourselves “doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Some people’s desire for truth is satisfied with man’s opinion and, in hearing this false interpretation, will convince themselves that this is the truth that will set them free. This is where heresies originate, in the minds of man and not the word of God. When Jesus prayed for His church He prayed for the unity only souls starving for righteousness will find (John 17:19). The church desiring understanding will not be denied.

One more aspect of God the church hungers for is His leadership: “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it” (Psalm 119:35). One of the greatest weaknesses of many in the church is where they find their delight. This kind of attitude can and will only be found in the hungering and thirsting church because they have disciplined their minds to a specific purpose. Their delight is not in pleasing the world but knowing they are pleasing God.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, April 19, 2013

We Are Family


“For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35).

Since we know that Jesus is God then we know also that Jesus loves His family. But, if we truly know Jesus as He revealed Himself, then we also know that Jesus placed highest value in His spiritual family. It isn’t that He didn’t love His earthly family but His spiritual was motivated by the depth of His love. His spiritual family was made up of those who heeded His words, embraced His love and followed His direction. They were people who were united in their devotion to Jesus and His Father. His love wasn’t made greater because they listened to Him but it was engraved deeper into their hearts, and as a result, they were being transformed. The church today is the continuation of that family tree that has its roots in the truth revealed in His word.

Paul reminds us that the church is a family unit “having been knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2). He uses a form of the Greek word agape for “love” here to show that the love that binds us together is an acting love. What keeps the church strong is their willingness to serve, love and encourage one another. When we see a brother or sister in need, we unite as a group to bring strength to the individual. We do this knowing the church gets stronger when the struggling individual perseveres through the trial: “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4). We are a caring group that is separated from the world because of our embracing our Lord’s love (John 13:34-35).

Our love for each other could not be complete without a deep down longing for Jesus’ teaching. Jesus came as One who had the mind of God and the heart to reveal that mind. He left the realm of heaven to come to teach us how to live as God’s chosen vessels. Remember, this world thinks we are all chosen vessels but the Bible shows us there are a certain group that continues to allow God’s love to mold them into His image instead of letting the world make us look like them. God’s plan is for His church to be cleansed for the work He has assigned them and without His cleansing one cannot be set apart for His work: “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Jesus used His words to reveal the mind of God to make known His purpose, power and presence in the church. When we love this teaching we make it our lives. And as we continue to grow and learn from our Master, we become more and more like Him every day. How can one not love His word knowing that it is preparing us for eternity?

The church on earth is known as His disciples. Disciples are people that learn. They deny what they once thought as truth and embrace the truth the Christ has revealed. They will not be persuaded by men, either by trickery or by force. Disciples have only one Master and that is Jesus. They know how important it is to live according to truth: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). Disciples need the love of Christ to survive. But to abide in that love they must stand against the trickery of people who have been deceived by the evil one who doesn’t want them to know the power of this love (2 Corinthians 4:4). True disciples give their lives to the cause of their Teacher, and that is to save the world from the hands of the accuser, who is trying to keep them from living eternally. Many in this world are disciples but only a few are true disciples of Christ. Only a few are willing to live and die for the purpose of saving souls.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, April 5, 2013

Night Walking

“So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night” (John 13:30).

As one reads John’s account of the gospel, the obvious is made clearer for us than if we were present at the time. Throughout the writing of John we can easily see Judas in the proper attire of his hypocrisy. But those who are with him do not have a clear line of sight into his intentions, except for Jesus. It is also true today as we can sometimes sit among hypocrites and never see their intentions until they reveal them in their actions. But Jesus knows our hearts and intentions.

Judas has just been identified as the betrayer after receiving a morsel of food dipped in the bowl of our Lord’s sauce. Once he has done this he has fulfilled the prophecy of Scripture (Psalm 41:9) as the one who will betray our Lord. It is at this time Jesus turns him over to Satan and tells him to carry out his act of betrayal without delay (John 13:27). As Judas realizes his cover has been blown, he exits the warmth of Jesus’ Light for the coldness of the world’s darkness. Many times we find ourselves at a critical time in our lives where we must decide whether we will continue in our discipleship and walk in the light or become like Judas and choose to leave Jesus for a walk in darkness. Let us learn from past experiences and make good decisions in the future.

Satan is described by God’s Spirit as the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) not because God wanted that but because man surrendered that power over to him in the Garden of Eden when he gave into Satan’s temptation. Satan still wanders this earth looking for souls to devour (James 5:8) and when we give into his evil deception of temptation we also choose to walk into his darkness. Please, do yourself a favor and remember that walking into darkness is always turning away from Christ: “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God’s truth is the Light of Christ that is given to illuminate the path way to His eternal presence (Psalm 119:105). If we are going to remain on the right path we must keep our focus on the light of truth and not be lured away.

Through his grace and mercy God has called us to draw near to Him. The key here is that He has called us, not forced us, to make this choice. Whenever we set out to accomplish our own desires instead of the will of God, we have made the choice to leave the Light to walk in darkness: “But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's’” (Mark 8:33). Harsh words, it would seem, especially for a disciple who was just trying to defend His Lord. But sometimes harshness is the only way to get people to see the deceitfulness of Satan’s schemes. Peter needed a lesson that would sink deep into his heart so that change would be inevitable in his way of thinking.

One thing that we need to make sure we are extracting from both of these instances is the idea of free will. Both Judas and Peter were given the opportunity to repent. Jesus loved both of these men and gave each a chance to change their minds. Obviously, Peter made the right choice whereas Judas gave way to Satan’s deceit. Peter didn’t pay the price for sin but reaped the reward of repentance. He loved Jesus and listened to His word and allowed the truth to convict his heart. Judas on the other hand, did not listen and his heart was hardened by Jesus’ words. When Satan’s deceit is embraced it fogs our minds and causes us to make decisions that will cost us our relationship with Christ. But the good news is that Jesus will always give us a chance to repent and change the path in which we are walking. We must choose daily to walk with Him.

In His Grace,
Cub

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Risen Savior For Life

“For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).

There are certain events throughout the days of our lives that stick out like a sore thumb, days that may have had a great effect on us. The bombing of the twin towers in New York City, the ending of World War II and the assassination of President Kennedy are just a couple that stick out in this author’s mind. But as extraordinary as these events truly are, they do not hold a candle to the events that took place in the first century during the week that led to our Lord’s crucifixion. The events of this week have changed the world forever, but the most defining moment of this historical week came on the day of the resurrection of our Savior. This miraculous resurrection changed the lives of every person in this world from that point onward as it gave sustenance to our faith: “[A]nd if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Only Christianity can truly boast in the cross.

When God raised Jesus from the restraint of the tomb He blessed the world with His promise of eternal life. Jesus came to this world as our “Passover Lamb,” to pay for the sins that each one of us have committed. His willingness to be the sacrificial Lamb for our inequity pleased God and His acceptance of that sacrifice was revealed to the world through the resurrection of Christ and assured us that our sins have been paid for: “[A]nd He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). God gave His creation the chance to be freed from sin’s power, which is death, and live eternally with Him in heaven: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus paid the price for our foolish decisions. And that is what sin is, a foolish decision. When we allow our hearts to be set upon anything that opposes the will of God we become fools in the eyes of our Creator: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is the One who catches the wise in their craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:19). But God is a compassionate Father and only wants what is best for His children. He knows we will stumble so He offers us a chance to repent and turn back to Him by recognizing our own inability and surrendering to His authority (Acts 17:30). When we make this decision we are making a decision to live eternally in His eternal dwelling place (Psalm 15). Without repentance, or letting go of our own weakness and holding on to Christ, we remain separated from His promise (Ephesians 2:12). We should be grateful that Jesus willingly gave His life to free us from the doom of foolishness. His death assured us that sacrifice is needed and willingness is accepted.

There have been many sacrifices made throughout our history but none as powerful as the sacrifice our Lord offered to save us from the demise of our sin. God presented His love in flesh and sent Him down as our Savior, Jesus. He came as a sacrifice and an example: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 1:21). Satan would like to reduce the effects of this miracle to just one week of your life. Resist his efforts by allowing Jesus’ sacrifice to influence you for life.

In His Grace,
Cub

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trials Strengthen Church

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2).

Trials and tribulations are a part of the Christian life. Although we are children of the Almighty Father we are continually facing difficulties that can cause us to stumble. But Christians will not allow trials to destroy their faith because their goals are on pleasing God. The Hebrew writer reveals to us that faith is needed to please our Lord (Hebrews 11:6). Staying faithful to God’s will is the secret to overcoming obstacles (1 John 5:4).

When my mother passed away it was one of the most difficult trials that my family has had to face. But through faith in God’s power we have overcome this trial and face new ones with a stronger desire to please God. Mom always said, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” Mom’s death didn’t kill us but God used this trial to strengthen our faith in Him (James 1:3). When faced in faith, trials will draw us closer to our Father.

God strengthens our faith in Him using different implements. One of the tools He uses is the brethren. The Maryville congregation has been a wonderful example of the Christian love that God wants us to have for each other. Jesus demands true love from His true followers (John 15:17). God’s love for us defines our love for each other and if we know God we will have this love (1 John 4:8). It is a divine love that motivates the heart, hands and head to make sure each member is adequately supplied to keep the church united.

God is truly amazing as He lives up to His promise to be there for us in any situation. He also fulfills His promise to make any situation positive (Romans 8:28). His faithfulness and integrity are proven as He took the worst thing man could do to His Son and turned it into the best thing His Son could do for mankind. His love for us goes beyond explanation as we face different trials every day. His love flows through the veins of the people who assemble to worship Him in “spirit and truth” (John 4:14). Our gratefulness to Him is shown through our devotion to His truth and our dedication to His life.

The churches throughout this great world have been a blessing to us and even gone out of their way to assist us in times of trial. The church was established by Jesus to be a pillar of strength for the people. We are assembled to give strength to those who are suffering. We give strength through God’s word that gives us His strength. Divine strength overwhelms human strength and that is why we are to die to self, to allow God’s strength to be recognized. It is His strength that builds the church up. If you are going through some kind of struggle, remember the church is here for you, to give strength to overcome.

In His Grace,
Cub

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Working God

“You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected” (James 2:22).

David once questioned God about who it is that will live with Him in heaven (Psalm 15:1). His inquiry revealed a divine answer that shows God must work in those who plan on dwelling with Him one day. It is an inescapable truth that our God is a working God and He is working in each one of us to create a character free from the desire of sin.

There are many people in this world who consider themselves religious yet don’t allow God to work in them. Paul is clear when he addresses the congregation at Philippi about the work God wants to do within His children (Philippians 1:6). He encourages the congregation to know that it is a work that has a beginning and will be worked until it is complete. He has a desire for all mankind to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), but His desire can only be fulfilled in the submissive soul that allows His truth to mold them (James 4:7).

For God to begin His work in us we must die to the flesh (Matthew 16:25). We must deicide to allow God’s way of life to rule our heart, minds and attitudes. God knows what is best for His creation and His grace is offered through His commands. His work begins in us when we fully surrender to His Spirit. Our fleshly desires do nothing but hinder God’s work. We will do well to deny ourselves and follow the lead of His Spirit.

The Bible is clear about the distinction of those who truly allow God to work in their lives: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10). Only when we allow God to work within us can we even begin to think of being righteous. His righteousness working in us shows the true ugliness of sin and convicts our hearts to the point of being “sorrowful to the point of repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:9). Without true repentance, there is no evidence of God working in us.

The Bible is clear that salvation is only offered to those who allow God to perfect His work in their lives. For God to work one must study His word and develop an intimate relationship with Him. Avoid being one who thinks God owes you salvation. His salvation is only offered to those who have faith in His word. That is why James tells us, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). The people who delude themselves are the hardest to reach. They are not willing to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord so that He might lift them up (1 Peter 5:6). Having a heart of humility doesn’t come naturally.

God’s work must begin in our submission and be perfected in His Son. He starts when we hear His word and are convicted to the change truth will produce in us. Then we will be converted to the life that He offers through His Suffering Servant we know as Jesus, our Savior. God is working in His children to produce in them a submissive attitude that trusts His way over anything that our feeble minds can conceive. When we are submissive to His work, then and only then, can He lead us to the rest of His life.

In His Grace,
Cub

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Worthy Love


“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

There is a difference between saying I love you and showing your love. You have most likely heard the saying, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” Talking the talk is just noise unless it is backed up with action: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Some say they love God, but saying you love God is not enough: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). There were then, and there are now, people who profess a love for Christ but continue to live their lives in worldly ways. If our love for God is true, it is revealed in the way we respond to God’s commands. Jesus confronted those who professed love without action: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Loving God is devoting our lives to His way of life, giving Him our heart, our soul and our minds that He may guide us in His truth

Love without action is contrary to the love God presents to us. If you know God, you know that His love is active: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God’s love is active in our lives. His love shows us the way of life that is most beneficial to us: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). God’s commands are based in His love for mankind and His desire for “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Jesus died to provide the world with a love they never knew: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We can easily see that God did more than just say, “I love you.” He sent His love to pay the price of our disobedience and give us hope of reconciliation. His love was sent to all and those who envelope His love become active in their love for Him (2 Thess 1:6-9).

Active love is made evident to the world: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Sacrificial love assures the welfare of others and is noticeable by all because it is working to make sure others have what is best for them. This is the love God displayed in Christ. When those of the world witness active love it makes them desire this love in their lives.

In His Grace,
Cub

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Getting Old

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8).

Many are led to believe that as long as we are staying the same then we are not changing. But this is as wrong as a three dollar bill. The truth of the matter is that if we are not growing then we are getting worse. The world is slipping down the slippery slope of sin and has become so hardened to God’s truth that they cannot even see this tragedy taking place. If you somehow do not believe this just look at what people are watching on TV these days. At one time there was a popular television show about a Genie who had been found by an astronaut. He brought her home and she remained living in her lamp. The producer of the show had to make sure that everyone knew that she was sleeping in her lamp and not sleeping in the house in which the Air Force Major lived. If this was not made clear to the audience then the show could not go on.

What a sharp contrast to what it is we see on television today. Every form of immorality can be seen on most channels today. Everything from adulterous situations to even same sex partnerships and even multi partner episodes of relations can be viewed. This is Satan’s way of getting us to accept this as a tolerable way of life, and judging from the evidence, he has been very successful. Satan has been very crafty since the beginning and has been very effective in deceiving the world. What could have we done as a nation to stop this from happening?

The first resolution has to be learning where we lost our focus. When this nation began, the founding fathers had their aim on God’s word. And although not totally correct in their understanding, they were persuaded by the godly values biblical truth holds. But somewhere along the road we managed to get off track. Maybe it was for the same reason the Hebrew nation lost its way: “And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen'” (Jeremiah 6:17). God has blasted the trumpet of warning going back to the ancient days of creation. His path of righteousness was once followed by ancient folks such as Abel, yet the world continues in its downward spiral because it will not heed His warnings. How far will the nations allow this to continue? When will we as a people learn that God wants us to follow His word because this is the only way to live in peace with Him? Losing our first love as a nation will be just as harsh for us as it was for the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:4).

Peter was a trumpet of the Lord when he blasted God’s warning of complacency. In the first chapter of Second Peter he wrote in verse eight that we are to be “increasing” in the qualities of holiness. Many believe that as long as we are not “backsliding” we are doing well. Well this is simply a denial of the trumpet of the Lord. He warns us not to be comfortable in our understanding of His truth. We must always be seeking ways to deepen our understanding of what His way, truth and life (John 14:6) mean to us and our relationship with our Creator. He has promised to lead the faithful to a place of rest, but only the faithful. The faithful are the ones who are “diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The trumpet of the Lord has warned against complacency yet the world seeks a different knowledge than what will lead them out of judgment. But the church can be a light to this perverse generation by diligently seeking the ancient paths and walking in them (Jeremiah 6:16). Never grow tired of learning about God and His way of life. Never grow weary of speaking of Hi great might. It will be beneficial to all.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, February 15, 2013

What does it take to truly LOVE?

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Isn't it great to know God is on your side. But this is only a guarantee for those who love Him....and He means LOVE Him...not really, really, really, like Him....but LOVE Him...lets discuss the difference...First off, if you love someone you are willing to go to the greatest lengths to see them pleased... what are some other insights to this question??

If you would like to join in this discussion, you can post your comments here on the blog, or you can join us at our Facebook page

Monday, February 11, 2013

Change is Good

“If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes (Job 14:14).

Many in this world oppose change because they have grown accustomed to a certain way of life. But if we want to be recognized by God as Christians, change has to take place. The first step in becoming a child of God is change. Some say that God accepts us the way we are, but the Bible doesn’t say we are to remain unchanged: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God calls us the way we are, but it is a call to change: “[A]ll the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). Change is essential to living a godly life.

Christ died so that we could have a change of spirit. Our spirit is of the flesh and that must change to be like God: “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’” (John 3:5-6). Our physical birth gave us life in the flesh and we lived that life according to the flesh. For change to take place in us we must be born again into the Spirit of God. If we are born into His Spirit then our lives are guided and driven by His Spirit: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). God has brought change to the way we live our lives by sending His Spirit to lead us into a new way of life.

Christ also died to bring change to our creation: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old things are our desires to live according to the flesh. When we are clothed with Christ our demeanor changes as we now walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). God created us as creatures of choice that we might choose to live in a way that reveals our love for Him. In the flesh we made wrong choices and that caused a separation between us and God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Being in Christ has transformed our bodies into a spiritual temple in which God Himself now dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16). We are changed from a tool of Satan to a dwelling place for God. We now function as part of a body that works to glorify God Who created us. We have become regenerated into a new spiritual being.

Christians cannot be afraid of change because God has saved us from the results of an unchanged lifestyle. He has called us to a change in the way He sees us: “[F]or you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). God’s demand for change is not so bad. It is a change from a life without His mercy to a life full of His mercy. It is a change from living a life that reveals death to a life that reveals life eternal. Let God change your desires, your hope and your mindset so He can change where you will spend eternity.

In His Grace,
Cub

Thursday, January 24, 2013

For Mercy’s Sake

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

In the tenth chapter of the book of Luke, Jesus used an illustration of a man that was beaten by robbers and thieves and left for dead as he was traveling down a very dangerous stretch of road from Jerusalem to Jericho to give His disciples some lessons on mercy. Let’s look into this part of Scripture to find some treasures about how God’s love wants to bring forth a desire in us for a new life that is filled with mercy for those around us because of the mercy we find in Christ.

The Scripture reveals a man traveling but has a terrible fall. Many people in this world occasionally fall down in life. As the Lord’s church, we have an opportunity to reach out to them and try to give them a chance to get back up on their feet. The world in which we live is full of potholes and other obstacles that will cause many to miss out on the stability of a life that is in step with Christ. Paul said there would be people who would be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). This kind of lifestyle will always lead many away from God’s grace. You and I have a great opportunity to display the mercy of Christ by taking the time necessary to reach out to them and teach them about a Savior that wants to lead them out of that desecrating life. We cannot just walk past them and hope something good will come their way. Remember that God sent His children to “seek and to find that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Any soul that has fallen away from God and into the grips of the power of the world needs mercy.

Also, we see that this man who has fallen has also been stripped and beaten by the world. This is a true indicator of how the evil one uses the world to deceive our hearts. He tricks us into believing that the world is our friend and that good things can come to those who put their trust in man. Many of us have seen people that have put all their money into a “no lose” situation only to see their riches be stolen from their fingertips. Or we have seen people in marriage relationships where spousal abuse has replaced what was once portrayed as love. These are just a couple of instances where we can easily see the world leaving our friends and maybe even family stripped and beaten. But this can be an opportunity to teach them about an unchangeable Lord: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Although the world and its elements are in a constant mode of change, our faith is placed in God, Who’s given us His love that never changes. What He reveals to us today is eternal and we can take that to the bank.

Notice also that this man was left for dead which reveals another opportunity for the church. Many in this world have been searching for Christ but instead have found their way to the deception of the false teachers of this world. And although the message of the false teacher may be sincere, since it is not biblical it can only lead one to death. Our opportunity here is to reveal the truth one can only find through faith in God’s word. When Jesus prayed for unity, the source of that unity is God’s word (John 17:17). People who are spreading the disease of false teachings should be held in special regard: “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:9). Paul’s heart was broken to see some Christians being tricked to believe in another way of salvation, although it was similar to what he knew to be truth. The Lord’s church has many opportunities to reveal mercy to those who are being misled and left for dead. Our prayer is that each member of the Lord’s church is taking these opportunities to show mercy to those left for dead by preaching the truth of God’s love being revealed to mankind through His Son’s blood.

In His Grace,
Cub

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Comeback God

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

Some of us who were watching football one Monday might this season were privileged to witness one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. The Denver Broncos were down 24points at halftime, but when the final gun sounded the Broncos had orchestrated a complete turnaround and came back to win this contest by a final score of 35 to 24. It wasn’t not only an offensive comeback but even the defense turned their game around to complete the final two quarters with a shutout. But as great as this comeback was, it still was not the “greatest” comeback ever.

Like the Broncos on that Monday night, many souls are headed in the wrong direction. Many in this world live as a servant to sin, which allows them to be led to defeat, aka death. The goal is victory which is found only in life. But life in this case is not just the existence in this world but it is living in God’s grace. Jesus is the only One who can give us the power to live in this fashion: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus came to this world to help us make a comeback: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). God’s love reveals His game plan for victory and any willing soul can find their way to that victory.

One amazing comeback revealed to us in Scripture is in the life of Saul. Saul was a man of great education which gave him amazing power. He was next in line for the office of Pharisee, which came by his knowledge of the Scriptures. But even though he knew the Scriptures, he sorrowfully didn’t know them in the Spirit of God. So, one can assume that there had to be a “halftime” in the life of Saul where adjustments had to be made. This turnaround was such an impact in revealing to us God’s grace that Luke recorded it three times in the book of Acts: “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads’” (Acts 9:14). This same confrontation with Saul and Jesus is revealed in Acts 22 and 26 also. Saul was once on the wrong team headed in the wrong direction. But Jesus came into his life and taught him how to make a comeback (Acts 9:6). Further reading will reveal that Saul was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins and was given a new name, Paul, in which he made a comeback and served the Lord with all his might: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). Now that is truly an amazing comeback.

Peter is another great life that revealed a complete comeback. It is easy for us to relate to Peter because we know he spoke from the heart but many times he acted through the flesh. He once told the Christ that he would die before he would allow anything to happen to His Lord which drew out an unexpected response from Jesus: “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's’” (Matthew 16:23). The comeback for Peter came in the book of Acts also, in chapter 2, where he delivered one of the most powerful sermons of all time. Peter’s comeback can be attributed to his receiving God’s Spirit (Acts 2:4). Peter went on to do great things for the Lord as an author, a teacher and a preacher. All of us are like Peter and Paul in the sense that we are all heading for defeat but we can make a comeback by repenting and receiving the Lord’s Spirit.

In His Grace,
Cub

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