Mercy

Mercy

Would you say that you are a merciful person? If the answer is yes, then you are truly blessed. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” He told the parable of the good Samaritan. A man had been robbed and beaten but the religious guys walked by him and ignored him. The Samaritan helped the poor guy who was beaten and left for dead. He tended his wounds and left money with the innkeeper and instructions that the man be taken care of. Jesus asked, “Which of these men was a neighbor to the man.” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him”. Jesus said, “Go and go likewise.”

When we follow Jesus, that’s what we do. We show mercy to our neighbors. We help those in need. We love without condition. We give without expecting anything in return. We look to Jesus to bless us and sustain us. We give to people and we receive from God. What a beautiful life God offers us! Mercy is the key that unlocks many doors. If you haven’t tried it lately. Give it a chance.

The Truth About Blessings

The Truth About Blessings

When it comes to Scripture, I like the phrase that Jack Webb used on the classic police detective show Dragnet, “The facts ma’am, just the facts”. When I’m digging around in the Bible for God’s perspective, I just want the facts, just the facts. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to become a blessed person. According to the Old and New Testaments, you find that it’s almost always associated with a certain type of behavior. Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, points out some behaviors that are blessed such as, being meek, merciful, pure in heart, hungering for righteousness and so on. Other scriptures that come to mind are “Forgive others and your Father in heaven will forgive you.” “Give and it shall be given”.

This week we are gearing up for our “Help Project” with a short series called “Help”. I will be showing you how to get help and how to help others. There is an old testament secret to being blessed that Jesus actually repeats in the New Testament but if you’re not watching for it, you’ll miss it. I can’t wait to share this with you. It’s very specific and very powerful! If you need God to show up in some part of your life, if you need a blessing, God makes some promises to you.

Persecution Is A Choice

Persecution Is A Choice

I’ll bet most of you have always thought of persecution as something that is beyond the Christian’s control. Like me, you’ve probably thought of it as some terrible thing that evil people have dreamed up to torture believers in Christ, without the believer playing any part. In some cases, that is true but if you look back at church history, you see a pattern. For instance, in the early days when Christians were persecuted by Rome, you see that it was the Christian who made a choice that carried with it horrible consequences. Caesar required that everyone in the Roman kingdom say once a year that “Caesar is lord.” Then they could worship any god they wanted. Christians chose not to say it, knowing that they would be killed for it.

They couldn’t put anything, anybody or any god before Jesus Christ. They stood alone against the culture. Others couldn’t understand why they refused to go along with the crowd. They had a knowledge of their God and an appreciation for His sacrifice that ignited an allegiance in their hearts that could not be compromised. They were fed to the lions, torn apart by dogs, covered in pitch and set on fire, and tortured and killed in many other monstrous ways. Yet, they did not renounce their faith. In fact, they counted it an honor to be persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

Most of the time, persecution is a choice. Will you stand by Jesus or will you cave to culture’s slightest inconvenience? Will you say yes to Jesus only when it adds something to your life or will you say yes when it costs you a relationship, a job or a sum of money? Jesus didn’t come to make life easy, He came to transform us into His image and give us eternal life that begins now. Are you willing to begin now? If we follow Jesus, we will face persecution. We will suffer losses. We will miss out on fun. We will be misunderstood, but we will be the friend of the Lord of the universe and have brothers and sisters who would lay their lives down for us. And, as Jesus said, we will be given the Kingdom of Heaven! What do you say?

The Prayer That is Always Answered

The Prayer That is Always Answered

There is a prayer that is always answered. Jesus says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. Pray for righteousness and but pray with the urgency of hunger and thirst. When you are hungry and thirsty, there is only one thing on your mind, food and drink. It’s urgent. It’s overpowering. You have to do whatever it takes to get food and water. You never put hunger and thirst aside and say, “I’ll get to that later, maybe next week”. It’s a “Now” kind of urge.

What if we prayed that way about our own souls? “God, I need your righteousness now, before I leave this place, before I get up and move on to something else. If it means turning off my music, my phone, my television, I’m ready to receive it now! I can’t feel better. I won’t move on. I will not switch gears until you bless me with the ability to see the way You see people and situations, hear and speak with the grace of the Almighty, forgive with the mercy of the Savior and act in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

That is a prayer that God loves to answer!iterally embrace those whose perspective is 180 degrees from mine. We in the church, will never agree on everything but if we are serious about Jesus, we could agree on the main thing. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

What is Grace?

What is Grace?

Grace is absolutely essential to Christianity. Without it, there would be no hope for us. It bridges the gap between our sinful state and the righteousness of God. It’s a second chance for us each day to become the children of God that He created us to be.

But grace is not a license to sin. It’s not a loophole to enable our evil nature to remain intact. It is not a reprieve from change. It’s not an excuse to remain passive. It is the power of God to bring us into His kingdom and to empower us to live as Christ did. In other words, grace does not excuse sin, it defeats the power of it.

Most Christians shun the words perfect and sinless. I think that is a good thing because those words immediately activate our self-righteous pride if we have any. Many people including me, have desired to be sinless for the sake of being sinless. This thinking, by the way, is sinful in itself because it comes from a place of pride. But, it’s just as wrong to say that we cannot overcome sin.

Whenever I have a conversation with someone about this, I always say that you’ll never be able to overcome the sin in your life until you believe it’s possible through the grace of Jesus Christ. The very next question to me is always the same. “So, you’re saying you believe in sinless perfection?” My reply is also always the same. “Let’s not use the word perfection because even Jesus would not meet the requirements that we have associated with that word. Even though Christ may have made some human mistakes like forgetting something or cutting a piece of wood too short in the workshop, He was perfect in one thing. He always obeyed His Father in heaven. And even though most Christians today don’t believe that living the way Jesus lived in obedience to the Father is possible, one thing is for sure, the men who wrote the New Testament certainly believed it.”

The Apostle Paul uses the word blameless. It’s a good word and a good way to think about what the grace of God can produce in our lives. The power of God’s amazing grace not only frees us from the sins of the past but can also prevent us from committing the sins of the future. We must believe this! If we don’t, we will be like people the scripture describes, “always learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We are talking about grace this week at The Net! Join us Sunday morning, 10:30 A.M., 2620 Clinton Ave. West, Campus 805. I hope to see you there!

Rob

All Things Are Possible If You Believe

All Things Are Possible If You Believe

“All things are possible if you believe.” This is what our Lord said to the man who brought his son to Jesus. The man said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” That’s the way a lot of us feel when we hear the words faith or belief.
 
When Jesus talked about believing, and He talked about it a lot, He was using a word that means to trust God with your wellbeing. What Jesus was saying to us was not just simply to believe that God is real and that Jesus was God’s Son. Most of America would agree that Jesus was the Son of God. He was actually talking about placing our trust in Him – trusting Him with our well-being. But what if you have trouble with this?
 
How do you strengthen your faith when you still have doubts? I still have trouble with this sometimes even though I’ve been following Jesus for 3 decades. There is an answer. Trust is both a noun and a verb. In the church, we use it mainly as a noun but to overcome our doubts and strengthen our faith, we must use it as a verb. We must actively trust God and specifically do the things that Jesus talked about. We must trust Him with our relationships, our jobs, our money, our future and all the things that mean so much to us. We must submit to Him in all these things. In other words, we must trust Him and all things will be possible to those who trust.
 
One last tip on trusting God. Trusting Him means letting God determine which mountains are moved, which miracles are performed, which blessings are poured out on us. We don’t know what we want, let along what we need. So, it’s in our trusting that God does the impossible but don’t be disappointed to find out that God knows what’s best. If you hang in there long enough with your trust, you will most certainly discover that God’s heart’s desire for you is by design, also your deepest heart’s desire. He knows exactly what will bless your soul to no end! Trust Him!