At times I have approached the Word of God—whether reading, hearing, or studying it—feeling fearful. I feared I could never do enough or that maybe I couldn’t please God or that I would find that I was a hopeless failure. That kind of thinking interfered with the benefit or growth I might have had.
But fear lies. The truth is that Jesus took care of my failures at the cross. Another truth: I could never be good enough to earn God’s love, but God loves me anyway. And another: I’ve received God’s gracious gift of salvation and have become His child. Furthermore, God has given me His Holy Spirit. He is a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (1 Tim. 1:7).
Because of these truths, I can look at Scripture in the faith that says God loves me and wants to show me His ways which are life-giving. When I use that filter—the faith filter—in my reading, hearing, and studying of God’s Word, I can learn to really live.
God is the giver of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. They come from Him (Proverbs 2:6). I need to tune my ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding, cry out in prayer for insight and ask for understanding. I’ll seek and search for them as the treasures that they are (Proverbs 2:2-4). That’s how I’ll prepare my heart to receive God’s Word, His communication to me. I’ll understand what it means to fear the Lord and will gain knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5).
Then the wicked one won’t have a chance to snatch away what is sown in my heart. Nor will my heart become stony, preventing my roots from growing deep in love and truth. Likewise weeds of worldly cares and riches won’t have opportunity to crowd out knowledge of God and His ways, which would make me unfruitful in His kingdom. (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23)
Dear Father, giver of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, grant me these things that I may learn to fear You and be fruitful in Your kingdom. Amen.
(Image from FreeImages.com/kristian stokholm
I almost got pulled down into that snake hole of regrets. Again. This time, though, I saw the way of escape. I said aloud to myself, “I am determined to forget what lies behind and to shut the door on regrets and lock it.
Today is real. I can live in today. The past is no longer a reality for me. I can’t live there. I am determined to live today!” (“Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”—2 Samuel 14:14 New Living Translation)
Then I thought maybe Jesus was saying, “Come. Let us reason together. Though your sins were like scarlet, now you are white as snow. Every sin was washed away in the blood of the cross. Those sins were removed as far as east from west, forgotten never to be remembered again. Even your poor choices have not interfered with My continued love for you and goodness to you.”
God has loved me with an everlasting love. His plans cannot be thwarted. He can use everything in my life to make me into the person He wants me to be. He doesn’t regret making me His child. Jesus isn’t sorry He died for me.
Thank You, Father! Thank You, Lord Jesus!
(See 1 Corinthians 10:13, Philippians 3:13, Isaiah 1:18, Psalm 103:12, Romans 8:38-39, Jeremiah 31:3, Job 42:2, and Romans 8:28.)
The next-to-last paragraph of this sermon really spoke to me where it says, “…when I sin, one of the underlying things going on with me is that I am not loving God, or my neighbor, or sometimes, either one. It isn’t just that I need to behave better externally (though that is true) – it is also that I need to love God and my neighbor more.” Also, “…I have learned to…ask God not only to help me not to sin, but also to increase the love I have for Him and for my neighbor.” Thanks, Pastor Tom.
We are to love God with all of our being. According to Jesus, nothing is more important than this. If we love God with our entire being and put him first in our lives, everything else will flow out of that in a way that fulfills what God wants. If we don’t love him, we are just a clanging gong; nothing. We are not to act religious for the sake of being religious. It is meaningless to follow Christian morality unless we do it out of love for God.
If you truly love God, and also your neighbor, you will fulfill, not ignore, the moral teachings of the Bible.
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Download Matthew Part 80
Matthew #80 Matthew 22:34-45
The third question with which…
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Several years ago, one friend told me how she came to faith in Jesus Christ. She had attended a church most of her life and thought her relationship with God was fine. Then she ran onto Ezekiel 18:4 (“For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die.”
It haunted her. Finally someone told her the good news that “…God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”
So she prayed and asked God for forgiveness for her sin because of Christ’s sacrifice. That day she believed in and received Jesus as her Savior and Lord. The last time I heard from her, she was still following Jesus.
My own commitment to following Jesus Christ began when I was a child and involved some stumbling. My friend and I came to Jesus differently, but we have this in common—we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, our Lord and Savior, and the only Way to the Father. He is Truth and the source of life now and forever.
If your faith and trust are in someone or something else (such as your good deeds, your religion, a church, your parents’ faith, or a belief that God is okay with our doing what we please and/or ignoring Him), please ask God to show you the truth about Himself and about Jesus. Do it today. His love for you is so great, and His plan of redemption is so marvelous that I don’t want you to miss out on it. God longs for us to be with Him forever, and we can be if we choose to go His way.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.”
John 3:16-18 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
(All Scriptures New Living Translation)
People who think they have to be perfect feel driven much of the time. I speak from experience. We, in trying to reach perfection, succeed mostly at making ourselves (and likely those around us) miserable. How did I end up in this trap? For me it probably started as a desire to feel good about myself that took root in a crevice of pride and grew into striving to avoid the emotional pain of being corrected. I didn’t understand that the ache of driving myself to be always right was worse and longer-lasting than the pain of correction. I also didn’t grasp the fact that part of that hurt was caused by “all or nothing” thinking—for example, if I’m not 100% right, I’m a total failure.
Now that I recognize the problem, I asked for God’s help to break free. And He is helping. I still sometimes find myself spending my thought time on every mistake I can remember and feeling guilty for every sin (even though I’ve confessed them and received forgiveness–1 John 1:9.) So instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I end up focusing on past failures.
One idea that helps me get off the treadmill of perfectionism is to capture the memories of mistakes and forgiven sins before they bump the thought speed control up to “race.” Then I tell myself to think of those things as just reminders that I’m not God—never have been and never will be. And really, what a relief! I’m way too small to handle His job. Any human being is.
Psalm 46:10–“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.
(Verses are New Living Translation.)
Pastor Tom has done an excellent 4-sermon series on the homosexuality issue. He shares a very biblical view of the issue. They should be read or listened to starting with the first one and going in order 1-2-3-4. Here’s the link to the first one: