The power of forgiveness

Years ago, some men were talking after a church fellowship lunch about the news headlines. One man read about some government employees who went to jail convicted of conspiracy to defraud after filing false expense records.

The man said something that struck me in a way I’ll never forget. He said, “I hope these men get the maximum sentences for their crimes.” He didn’t stop there. “I can never forgive anyone for defrauding the government,” he said.

Recently, a Dallas jury convicted a former officer of murder in the shooting of a man. According to published reports, she said she fired because she thought a stranger was inside her apartment. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the victim’s brother said he forgave the officer and would not hold his brother’s death against her. That young man was a Christian, indeed. Continue reading “The power of forgiveness”

Make up your mind to serve Jesus

Few people think they can do great things. Perhaps that’s because humans look at their faults and weaknesses and convince themselves they cannot reach greatness.

A close friend of mine in high school wanted to become a physician. A counselor told him his grades were not good enough to enable him to get into college. Instead, he was encouraged to go into a technical school. He did, but he always thought what might have happened if he had persisted in becoming a doctor. Continue reading “Make up your mind to serve Jesus”

Assumptions

Some of the biggest mistakes people make come from assumptions. 

The people of Nazareth made assumptions about Jesus that were very wrong. When he visited his hometown, Nazareth, Jesus attended the synagogue and taught there. It was an opportunity to tell people the truth about himself and God.

As Jesus taught the hometown folks, many of them became indignant (Matthew 13:54). One said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” That was an assumption. These people had seen Jesus all his life. They figured they knew who he was. But, oh, how little they did know! Continue reading “Assumptions”

Follow the example of love

Jesus never forced anyone to accept him or his teaching. In Matthew chapter 8, when Jesus healed two possessed men in the Gadarenes and people asked him to leave, he left.

After crossing the Sea of Galilee and arriving in Capernaum, Jesus saw a paralyzed man. The paralysis was so severe  the man was carried. The scripture tells us Jesus saw their faith, and the Master said the man’s sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). The scribes watching this accused Jesus of blasphemy.

There is a contrast here that we should understand. Continue reading “Follow the example of love”

Losing your life in Christ

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the people of the United States spent $3.5 trillion, or 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product on healthcare.

Satan made a similar observation when talking to God about his servant Job when he said, “Skin for skin! Indeed, a man will give up all that he has to save his life” (Job 2:4 NET). Many people have done just that.

Jesus, however, said a person who truly loves his life would “destroy it” (John 12:25 NET). Guy N. Woods wrote, “… the Lord’s statement is paradoxical and means simply that he who appears to be little concerned about the preservation of his earthly life is really guaranteeing the permanence of his life in heaven.”/1 Continue reading “Losing your life in Christ”

The problem of sin

Sin. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from. All humans struggle with sin. It doesn’t even matter when we are living (although most seem to always think that it is worse now than it has ever been). David wrote about this in Psalm 14 and Paul quoted it in his letter to the Christians in Rome.

“There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

Although we might not like this applied to us, deep down we know that too often we wander after sin and do not seek God. If the truth be told, we often seek sin and ignore God. When it comes to wanting what we desire, most choose sin. As David went on to say, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Continue reading “The problem of sin”

Don’t give up!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NET)

Therefore … because of the the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, we need to do something. The “great cloud of witnesses” are those from the previous chapter listed in the hall of fame of faith. These are people whose lives were characterised by faith, who followed God no matter what might happen to them or was happening to them. Their encouragement to us is that we need to be a people of faith. Continue reading “Don’t give up!”

Are you prepared to follow him?

Jesus had just taken five barley loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 people (John 6:22ff). Imagine the power of that miracle. The people who witnessed it wanted to make Jesus their king.

Later, people were looking for Jesus and found him miles from where they thought he was. They asked him when he arrived. It was then that Jesus told them what they were seeking. They were looking for another meal.

Have you ever noticed how much emphasis some people place on food, drink, and material possessions? One would think there was nothing else for which to live. While it is true that people must attend to priorities, these people had mistakenly put their emphasis on eating. Continue reading “Are you prepared to follow him?”

Jesus is better

“After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world. The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1-4 NET)

God had given his message to his people throughout history through his ‘prophets’ – not that they were necessarily writing about the future, but they were receiving the word of God directly from him and writing it down. No one prophet received the entire revelation of God’s will, but each had a portion depending on what was needed in their time or what God needed his people to be prepared for. Continue reading “Jesus is better”

Following Jesus involves a cross

Crucifixion was Rome’s way of dealing with people it didn’t like. Crucifixion was Rome’s way of dealing with enemies. Its gruesome nature was a part of Rome telling people they’d best behave or they might find themselves hanging from a cross one day.

Jesus had a discussion with his disciples that put the figure of the cross front and center. In Luke 9, Jesus told the men following him that if they were his disciples, they must deny self and take up a cross. The condemned was required to carry his own cross to the place of execution. The figure is clear. Continue reading “Following Jesus involves a cross”