It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

Living in Defeat?

Sometimes we’d rather live in defeat for a very long time than to do what it takes to get God’s help. But God loves us enough to keep us in that place of distress until we have no alternative, no option but to cry out to Him.

Step out in faith, KNOWING that If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)

In HIS presence we sense the opposite of defeat and distress. We can live in defeat or victory. The choice is ours.

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Can You Hear Me Now?

And Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Mark 4:9

Numerous times Jesus includes the equivalent of saying, “Listen up!” when He speaks. His expression, He who has ears to hear,”makes us realize how often we use our ears for other purposes—to secure sun glasses, to keep our hats from falling over our eyes, and to hang jewelry. But we’ve got ears in order to hear. Jesus wants to provoke attention, even though He knows some will not listen.

When we look at the reasons why people don’t listen, we can group them into four categories. As you read them, do a spiritual hearing check-up by asking yourself, Am I like that?

Immaturity. People of all ages can have this problem. Immaturity is the inability to connect actions and consequences. The immature person doesn’t get it. They can’t make the connection between their choices and what comes because of those decisions. They need to discover the unbreakable law of cause and effect that God has established in the universe. If you choose to sin; you choose to suffer. That’s what’s coming. People frequently say, “I’m going to beat the odds. I’m going to cut the corners.” Then they hit a brick wall or disappear in a bottomless pit. Often, painful experience is the only effective teacher to improve an immature person’s hearing.

Rebellion. “My will. My thrill. You chill.” Those are the proud declarations of rebellion. “No one’s going to get between my will and my thrill! This is what I want to do. You back off! Don’t tell me anything.” Rebels won’t listen and they try to cut off any attempts by others to help. They are stuck in overdrive, headed for a wall—and they don’t care! But hardship and humiliation can make a rebel’s heart attentive.

Woundedness. Hidden hurts close hearts and ears. They can’t hear because something happened that left unseen scars. Sometimes in a family or a church things happen that few know about. The person holds it all inside and drifts away. They’re hurting, but don’t bring it out in the open. They can’t listen to reason because all they hear is their hidden wound.

Relationships. Peers could be the problem. Peers in the ears block fears. Warnings we should hear and be afraid of don’t register on our radar. Like a teen who feels the need for speed, with a friend in the passenger seat shouting, “GO!! GO!! GO!!!” There are many times we should be afraid, but we’re more concerned about impressing our friends and the people around us.

Most of us can relate to one or more of the reasons above. But He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus’ words remind us He has spoken even when we are not listening. And His Word is always ready when we’re ready to use our ears for their designed purpose—to listen. Until we’re willing to respond to the truth He has for us, we’re not really listening.

How did you do with the hearing check-up? If you realize you are being influenced not to listen to the Lord because of one or more of these causes, it’s time to let God do some hearing correction. Ask Him to tune your ears to hear His voice.

Pastor James MacDonald

Leave a comment »

What Route Will You Choose?

When a person walks closely with the Lord, and THEN DOUBTS what HE tells them, the Lord takes that to heart, as God wants HIS children to believe HIM.

Zacharias doubted what the Lord had said.  Consequences immediately followed.  We can choose our sin, but not the consequences.

Can you imagine having your mouth shut tightly for 9 months as Zacharias did when HE doubted what God said would happen?

Have you ever wondered “just what all” Zacharias had to say and talk about after 9 months of a closed mouth?

Do you know what it’s like to have a thought while someone is speaking to you, yet rather than interrupt, you keep it to yourself and wait for your turn to talk?  Then when the other person has quit talking, you’ve forgotten what you wanted to say?  I wonder how many times that happened to him?

I wonder what he pondered and learned about the Lord during that time?

Was it quiet in his house?

Did he and Elisabeth work harder at communicating?

How do you think this affected his role as a priest in the community?

What did he tell people why his mouth had been shut?

How many “believed” God as a result of this incident?

Read the story:  Luke 1:5-25

Would that (9 months) be enough time for you to “think about” things?  Once Zacharias believed God as a result of this consequence, his mouth was opened.  Luke 1:57-67

The Lord does have a sense of humor . . . and WILL fulfill HIS purpose, regardless of what route HE choses!

Just yesterday I visited with my children and a few friends about the Bible – God’s Holy and infallible Word.  We either believe it . . . . OR WE DON’T.  We cannot believe just part of it.  If we choose to believe the Bible is 100% true, then no matter the circumstance or difficulty, we KNOW that HE can be trusted, in spite of any emotion we are experiencing!

Will you choose to obey or doubt what God says?

When God closed his mouth, it grew Zacharias’s faith and taught him to BELIEVE GOD!

Leave a comment »

Choose the Right Entrance

Matthew 7:13-14  “Enter ye in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The gate is wide and stands open.  You may go in this gate with all your lusts about you; it gives no checks to appetites or passions.  It is a broad way and there are many paths

The way to eternal life is narrow.  We are not in heaven as soon as we enter through the strait gate.  Self must be denied and corruptions mortified.  Daily temptations resisted; duties must be done as we will go through trials and sufferings.

We go through gates of many kinds.  However, some are more like turnstiles.  You know, like at airports and amusement parks?  Most of the time, they are one-way.  You go in and you don’t back out.

Jesus tells us to “enter by the narrow gate”.  He also speaks about the way being hard is the way that leads to life.   Going through a narrow gate in itself is uncomfortable, and now He tells us the way will also be hard.  Expect it.

There is also a wide gate. Many will go through this gate because it is easy.  It won’t require much of us.  We won’t feel uncomfortable and rarely ever make a sacrifice.  We will always be accepted by others.  All you need to do is say a prayer, admire Jesus, and say you believe in love.  It’s lazy and lets you move along with the current.  It’s what we do naturally.  But what does Jesus say it leads to?  Death.  Eternal death.

I had a friend one time who made a “profession of faith” and when things began to get difficult…I mean really hard…she told me, “If this is what Christianity is all about, YOU CAN HAVE IT!  I DON’T WANT ANY PART OF IT!”  After gasping at what she had said, I was stunned then sickened as I immediately thought to myself, “have I given her the wrong image of Christ?”  Since then, I have come to realize that there are people everywhere who want a ticket to heaven…but they want the easy road.

Many Christians think that trusting Jesus as their Savior makes life easy, and now that they have Christ, there will be nothing but smooth sailing.  That’s not what Jesus has told us – yet the contrary.  We will be constricted.  We will need to believe things we cannot see.  We will have to forgive those who hurt us, and be kind to those who really irritate us.  We will have to say no to some things that others are free to do.  We will be mocked, made fun of, and slandered.  We will standout and be very different at times when we wish we could just blend in with the crowd.  We may even lose our life.

What do we get as Christians?  Well, everything.  Even through all the difficulties we will encounter we can live with joy and peace.  We will have courage when others would cave in fear.  And best of all, we have the promise from One that cannot lie.  We have the hope of life eternal in His very presence.  I would say that’s worth some discomfort.

You have to choose:  narrow or wide?

Leave a comment »