Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

The Offense of the Gospel

Dear friends,
First, an update. I am regaining my strength daily. Of course, it is slower than I would like, but I’m okay with that. Yesterday (Sunday), I returned to the pulpit for the first time, and it was good to be there. My thanks to those in the church who have stepped up to help with the services. I appreciate you.
Today, I will share some thoughts from Sunday’s message: It is difficult in today’s culture to initiate a conversation about sin and its consequences. People are offended when we speak of sin, and more often than not, we will be accused of being judgmental. It seems, though that what is even more offensive to many, is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
To most people outside the Christian worldview, the idea of a God who created everything, and who desires our total allegiance or face judgment is offensive. The gospel’s offense begins with the first words of the Bible. “In the beginning God…”
A few words about God. God is absolutely pure, and there is nothing wrong in Him. Everything God is and everything God does is right. God is good. His goodness is expressed in his justice. God is a perfect judge. His goodness shows in His grace. He is compassionate and patient, wanting all people everywhere to know and enjoy His kindness, mercy and love.
So, the most offensive claim in Christianity is that God is the Creator, Owner, and Judge of every person on the planet. Every one of us stands before Him guilty of sin, and the only way to be reconciled to Him is through faith in Jesus, the crucified Savior and risen King. All who trust in His love will experience everlasting life while all who turn from His lordship will suffer everlasting death.
In light of this, we who believe the gospel, should be moved to take a stand for the truth of the Bible. But, as we take our stand, let us do so with conviction, compassion, and courage.
It will not be easy. Jesus tells His followers not to be afraid of those who oppose them. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Listen Closely

In our Sunday school discussion yesterday, the point was made that people need to listen to the Lord Jesus. When Jesus walked this earth, He told people to listen to His voice. Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen and understand” (Matthew 15:10). At the transfiguration, the disciples present heard the voice of God saying, “This is my Son whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5).

In our day, we can read the words of Jesus in the Bible, but as Jesus was preparing to return the Father, he taught his disciples to listen to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. These are Jesus’ words: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13-14).

Then, in Revelation, as Jesus speaks to John concerning the seven churches, we read these words. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Seven times in 2 chapters, he repeats this command, and when anything in scripture is repeated that many times, we need to pay attention.

Believers in John’s day had to deal with background noise from the culture around them that demanded careful listening to know what the Spirit was teaching. It is the same for Christians today. We must listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying, because the background noise can drown out His voice.

Few are those today, who actually listen to the words and commands of Jesus. Even fewer are those who obey Him.

Again, the words of Jesus: “If you love Me, you will obey what I command…Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me” (John 14:15, 21).

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry

Reasons or Excuses?

Okay, here are the answers to some of the questions regarding our plans for the future, the change I’ve been talking about. No, we are not retiring from ministry or leaving Ericson. The Lord has not indicated to me that we are to stop doing what we are doing. What it does mean is that we are insuring that we have a place to live and call our own. We can live at Lake George as long as we want, but wisdom tells us to find a place a little less remote, and closer to the services we may need in the future. Lake Ericson is not exactly big city, but it is a lot closer to one. After living here for almost 14 years, this is home. You might pray for us, because all this is a bit overwhelming at times.

For a long time, I’ve noticed that when I talk to people, and they learn that I’m a pastor, they begin to make excuses for not being faithful in going to church. I want to say “tell those to the Lord, he’s the one to whom you will have to answer.” I’m not saying there are not legitimate reasons for missing a worship service, or a weekly Bible study. Many times circumstances just won’t let us be where we want to be. I do, however, have questions when the first response is some shallow excuse. Jesus told a story about a man who invited people to a banquet, and we read, “But they all alike began to make excuses.” (Luke 14:18). It is a picture of people excusing themselves from an invitation to follow Jesus.

Concerning those who refused to believe in Him, Jesus said this, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin, Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).

The devil prompts us to make excuses for our disobedience, while Scripture tells us to give the reason for our hope. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15).

It would seem to make sense that we should give legitimate reasons for our behavior, instead of just manufacturing excuses.

Just thinking,

Pastor Jerry