Tag Archives: Fellowship with God

The All-Sufficient Cross of Christ

This devotional by our pastor Randy Huddleston spoke to my heart, and I have his permission to share it with you.

The All-Sufficient Cross of Christ

Prepare yourself, take off your shoes because you are entering holy ground.

Sacrifice, selflessness, supreme, surprising, suffering, the Son of God nailed to a cross to die.

The injured party in the human drama was God.  His joy and desire were to delight in the people he had made, but they turned on him and aligned themselves with his archenemy.  God was stabbed in the back.  The relationship was broken, and separation led to consequences for the hurt they had done.  This was no small thing like spilled milk; this was the breakdown of divine and human connection, love, and the journey together.  That brilliant, beautiful pair’s act of rebellion rippled like a tsunami across the created order affecting the animate and inanimate.  It has come to you as part of creation and as a son or daughter of Adam and Eve.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 (NLT2)

Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 8:20-21 (NLT2)

A solution was needed to sin, curse, and death.  Neither human philosophy, self-made religion, or holier-than-thou living would be the solution.  The solution had to come from above, and God provided it.  He sent his Son.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 (NLT2)

Jesus, the God-man, Son of God, who lived a perfect and blameless life, humbled himself to be the sacrifice, the sufficient sacrifice to pay the penalty of sin.  No other could do it.  He knew the importance of what he did.  His suffering and death were not to impress or please you but to provide justice before the Supreme Court of Highest Heaven.  If the requirements of the highest law and Lawgiver were not met, there would be no future for humanity or this universe.  Jesus on the cross was the all-sufficient, permanent, and perfect payment.  He changed everything.

Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19 (NLT2)

Adam freely took from the tree and disobeyed God leading to death.  Jesus willingly gave himself on the tree and fully obeyed God even to death.  Adam’s death led to death for all.  Jesus’ death leads to life.

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT2)

Jesus’ death on the cross did it, once for all, no need for continued animal sacrifices.  Jesus’ cross was God’s plan, and when it was finished, people could have new life in him.  Trying to earn points to get into God’s good graces is of no value by comparison to the once for all sacrifice of Christ.  Salvation is only by God’s grace; no one can earn it by what they think is good.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT2)

  • Have you ever considered Jesus’ death on the cross insufficient and tried to do good things to be saved? 
  • No other historical event has done more to set people free than this one selfless solitary sacrifice on the cross.  Has the cross of Christ enthralled you?

Copyright © 2020 Grace Bible Church, All rights reserved.

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Learning to Wait

Oh, no! Saul’s troops were quickly slipping away. The ones who remained trembled with fear. Saul had waited the seven days there at Gilgal as Samuel had instructed, but Samuel still hadn’t come. Saul panicked. “Bring me the burnt offerings and the peace offerings!” he demanded. Then he made the sacrifices that Samuel was going to do when he arrived.

Just as Saul finished the burnt offering, Samuel arrived and asked what Saul had done. Saul replied that he saw his men scattering, and Samuel hadn’t come when he had said, and the Philistines were ready to march against them. He added that he felt compelled to offer the burnt offering himself because he didn’t want to go into battle without asking for God’s help. (Based on 1 Samuel 13:7-12 NLT).

Unfortunately, I’m like King Saul sometimes. I want to learn to wait on God (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV—“But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”).

But when I wait to hear God’s voice, I get impatient and start listening to doubts. The voice of doubt says that God doesn’t want to speak with me or fellowship with me. It says that I can’t perceive His presence or hear what He says. The doubt from human pride hints that I should get busy with other things. So, like King Saul, I go to plan B. There wasn’t a plan B when I started to wait on the Lord, but when I let the doubts drag me to the edge of unbelief, I think I need to come up with a new plan.

Father, please forgive my impatience. Thank You for forgiveness and for Your patience with me. Now that I see the doubts, I can choose to bring them captive to Jesus. I’m determined to sit at Your feet and learn to wait. Amen.

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Listen

One of my goals this year is to learn to listen better—especially to God. The following reminded me of my need to work toward this goal.

At a family holiday gathering, one of the exhausted children whined for his father’s attention. All the adults, including his father, were busy with other pursuits. While I worked on a craft project, the Holy Spirit nudged me to help the child. I thought, “I’d comfort the boy, but I don’t know what to do. My attention or attempts to comfort would only get him more upset because I’m a rather distant relative.”

So I asked God what I could do, but I kept on working on my craft instead of stopping to listen. After a few minutes I got an idea of what to do. By that time, however, the child had sat down on the couch and fallen asleep.

By being too busy to listen to our Father, I missed an opportunity to obey Him and perhaps become less distant to my young relative. Maybe I can learn from this experience to stop and listen next time the Holy Spirit nudges.

“…Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” -Hebrews 3:15 New Living Translation

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More Relationship, Less Religion

Dear Father, all too often my relationship with you reverts to more religion than relationship. Praying, reading Your Word, Bible study, keeping rules, fasting, and quiet time with You are all good things. However, their value in getting closer to You diminishes if I do them as just routine, something more to check off my list of to-do’s.
One lure that draws me toward the religion trap is the foolish idea that I need do all those things so I can earn Your love, favor, attention, and approval. But of course these things (love, etc.) are gifts of Your grace, not things I earn. You already love me to the max. Jesus showed that when He suffered and died so I could be forgiven and reconciled to You. You are my Father, and I am Your child (John 1:12). Your Word overflows with declarations of Your favor for and attention to those who belong to You. Besides these, You’ve given us Your Holy Spirit so we have power and resources to live purposeful lives that please You.
I want to keep doing those good things, but let me do them because I love You and because they draw me closer to You. May I throw out any hint of earning anything. Thank You for reminding me of the wonderful truth that You desire relationship rather than religion. Amen.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8 New Living Translation)

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Pastor’s Joy by Randy Huddleston

I found this devotion by my Pastor Randy Huddleston very meaningful and wanted to share it with you:

He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:30 (NASB)

–John the Baptist

Pastor’s Joy

There are jobs that require a person to show up, get it done, and move on, but that isn’t how it works for a pastor.

God matters.  God’s people matter.  There is more going on than this temporal world.  The Apostle Paul understood the importance of these things and gave instructions to the elders (pastors, overseers) of the church in Ephesus regarding the role.

So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders. Acts 20:28 (NLT)

Pastors are to be careful to guard themselves against the flesh, the world, and the devil.  All are interested in doing harm and not promoting the good God has purposed.  They fail.  I fail.  But we turn to our redeemer and are restored to the work God has given.  The pastor must draw near to God.  There must be a clarity of his own brokenness so that he can reach out to the broken.  The idea of flawlessness among God’s servants is a myth.  Having failed or been misled a pastor can learn to be a better guard and protector of God’s people if he keeps His eye on God.  He must humble himself, confess his sins, and follow the Lord.  John puts it this way.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. 1 John 1:8-10 (NLT)

The key for the pastor is to stay close to God and to bring spiritually nourishing food to God’s people.  Kids may want to live on Happy Meals and cotton candy, but there are some things more nourishing which their parents must provide.  Sometimes God’s people can lean toward spiritual Happy Meals and cotton candy, but there are more spiritually nourishing meals God would desire for the.  The pastor is to discern the real needs and under  the leadership and power of the Spirit provide the proper nutrition.

This is done for God’s flock—the church.  So, very important to the Lord.  Purchased by the blood of Christ.

Precious to the Lord are you, the people of His flock.  And, as such, you are precious to the pastor given charge of the flock.

As for me, as it was for Paul, “You are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.” Philippians 4:1 (NLT)

The eternal exists now and forever.  What God is doing brings us into that bigger picture.  The pressures of today will be different in a few years.  Rationing of food and other items existed during World War II, and then it changed.  These things too will fade away.  But what God is doing in you will last.  Being part of what God is doing in you a worthy challenge and worthwhile goal.  The joy for me and for pastors is seeing God’s people walking faithfully with Him, fulfilling their purpose, and finally being presented perfect in their relationship with Christ.

How has your relationship with the Lord been helped or hampered by pastors you have had over the years?

Have you had any misunderstandings of the responsibilities pastors have?

What do you appreciate about Christ’s design of having pastors in His church?

(e-mail address for Pastor Randy Huddleston: info@gbcpryor.org )

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Stay Alert

Mount Sinai crtv-comns    Exodus 24:9-10 says that Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s sons) and 70 of Israel’s elders climbed Mt. Sinai and “there they saw the God of Israel.” Verse 11 says, “And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!” (Quotes are New Living Translation.)
Verse 12 says that God told Moses to come up to Him on the mountain, so I guess at some point the group must have gone down to the people.
When Moses and Joshua climbed the mountain this time, Moses told the elders that Aaron and Hur were present, and if there was a problem, to consult with them. Moses was with God getting instructions for 40 days and nights.
Exodus 32 says the people got impatient and said they didn’t know what happened to Moses. They asked for gods who could lead them. So Aaron made the golden calf.
After Aaron and his sons and those elders had eaten and drank with God, how could they do that?! But don’t I do the same thing sometimes? I stumble off God’s path into my own way even after I’ve experienced Him in marvelous ways. I’m so thankful for God’s forgiveness and that He draws me back to Himself!
   Oh Father, please help me watch and pray so I won’t enter into temptation. Amen. (See Matthew 26:41.)

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The Greatest Gift

Mark 6:53, 55-56 Amplified Bkible “And when they had crossed over, they reached the land of Gennesaret….  and they ran about the whole countryside, and began to carry around sick people on their sleeping pads or mats to any place where they heard that He was. and wherever He came into villages or cities or the country, they would lay the sick in the marketplaces and beg Him that they might touch even the fringe of His outer garment, and as many as touched Him were restored to health.”

I wonder how many today come to Jesus and receive healing for themselves or someone else and go away. They’re content with healing and don’t go on to become His disciples. Following Jesus instead of our own interests requires laying down the lordship over our own lives, but the rewards are worth the price. Jesus offers healing because He is good and merciful, but He offers so much more as well. He offers forgiveness of sins, peace of mind, joy, fulfillment, strength, and on and on. The most important thing He gives, though, is relationship with the living, triune God—in this life and the next. gift-blue-purple bow

Dear Lord, please don’t let me ever settle for anything less, but remind me to take up my cross and follow You so You can give me the greatest gift—You, Yourself. Amen.

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WHY DOES JESUS HEAL?

Excellent sermon by Pastor Tom.

Clear Bible

healing

Healing in this life, or making this life better somehow, is ultimately meaningless unless we respond to Jesus in faith. Jesus is focused on the eternal person, the spiritual person. That’s where his priority is, and I think that is where our priorities should be also.

To listen to the sermon, click the play button:

To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer: Download Matthew Part 30

 Matthew #30 . Matthew 9:1-8

This time, we will take the incident with the paralyzed man and his friends. Mark and Luke include the detail that the paralytic man’s friends couldn’t get him through the crowd, so they lowered him from the roof to set him in front of Jesus. Once again, there is no reason to assume that this contradicts Matthew. Matthew often omits details supplied by Luke…

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WHY DID JESUS SAY THE WAY WAS NARROW?

Excellent message by Pastor Tom. Reminds us that Christianity is all about Jesus–relationship with Him, surrendering to Him. It’s “not about earning points with God or bettering yourself, or peace, or making the world a better place” although these things may result from following Him. The important thing is knowing Jesus, trusting Him, obeying Him.

Clear Bible

narrow way

Sometimes it feels hard to be a real Jesus-follower when so many others seem to get by just fine ignoring most of what he said, and even call themselves Christians while doing it. But Jesus told us right here that that is how it would be.If we claim to be followers of Jesus, it seems only right that we don’t dispute what he said.

To listen to the sermon, click the play button:

To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer: Download Matthew Part 23

Matthew #23 . 7:12-29

Matthew 7:12 deserves honorable mention, but it isn’t my intention to preach an entire sermon on it. Jesus said:

In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets. (Matt 7:12, NET)

We call this “the golden…

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God Brings Us Back

house drawing 1     Sometimes people remark, “You can’t go home again,” meaning perhaps that we can’t get back what’s in the past. A woman speaking to King David in 2 Samuel 14:14 expressed a similar thought: “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”
This wise woman doesn’t stop with the fact that no one can go back to yesterday. She goes on to tell about how God deals with people who have been separated from Him by past events or experiences. God finds ways to bring us back to Himself.
In John 14, Jesus said that He is the Way to the Father. Romans 5:18 says, Bible Rom title“…Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.” Jesus came to earth as the spotless sacrificial lamb, suffered and died on the cross, and was raised to life the third day. In doing this, Christ became the Way that God provided for people to be brought back to Him. All those who come to Him through Jesus Christ can enjoy wonderful relationship with the almighty, all-loving, God, both now and forever. What joy!
However, even we who live in right relationship with God through Christ can put distance between ourselves and Him in daily life. We let busy-ness, distractions, sins, or bad habits draw us away, or we get lazy and start to drift from closeness with the Lord. Our merciful God has devised ways to bring us back then also. In James 4:8, God tells us to draw near to Him, and He will draw near to us. 1 John 1:9 tells us what to do about sin—confess it and receive forgiveness. In John 16, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit who helps us get back on track when we’ve gotten off.
We also have God’s written Word to bring us back to Him when we’ve wandered.  Timothy 3:16-17 says,Bible 2 Tim title“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” God’s Holy Spirit lives in us revealing the truths in the Scriptures and applying them to our lives.

     Thank You, Lord, for devising ways to bring us back to Yourself when we’re separated from You. Amen.

(Bible verses quoted are New Living Translation.)

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