Hope In Christ Will Never Bring Disappointment

“The end of a thing is better than its beginning. The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

I was listening to a friend recently who came very close to winning a promotion. His disappointment was understandable. As he shared his frustration, however, he also read some verses from the Book of Romans that comforted him. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith unto this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5: 1-5)

My friend realized that God is teaching him to be patient. In other words, when God knows the time is right, my friend knows that the promotion will come. As a Christian, he has hope even when the breaks don’t seem to be going his way.

While listening to his story, I admired the strength and quality of his faith because I was also disappointed by the some of the breaks that seemed to be going my way. However, unlike my friend, I thought God’s timing stunk. For the life of me, I could not understand why God would not honor the desires of my heart especially when I thought those desires were right in the center of his will for my life.

When I returned home and looked at the verses to which my friend staked his claim, God began to teach me a lesson about my attitude toward disappointment. Just one verse beyond the promise of hope that reminded my friend to be patient was God’s message to me: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have to learn how to empty ourselves. We must become selfless if we are ever to live a spirit-filled life. And most of all, we have to accept that if God’s timing was “right” for the ungodly, then it is perfect for his children.

When I looked in the mirror that night, I realized that I had not allowed that selfless quality to show through my disappointment. The only quality that was shining through my disappointment was a selfish Christian who would not submit to fact that God’s clock doesn’t work like ours. Indeed, when the time is right, God will respond.

By the way, the next morning I received a telephone call from another friend. He didn’t know anything about my disappointment with God, or the lesson that I had learned from my selfish attitude. He just called me to let me know that God had led him to open a door for me. I did not know it then, but that door was the beginning of God’s answer to my prayer.

Lord, forgive me for the selfish attitude I have shown. But most of all, for even that I could ever have a better sense of timing for my life than you. I am grateful for the door that you opened, and I know now that I never did deserve the opportunity to walk through it. Please don’t ever let me forget the empty feeling I had when I realized how much I had failed you. Fill that emptiness with your Spirit and may others be blessed by the lesson I have learned. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - July 23, 2017 at 7:23 am

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Grateful For That Voice In The Wilderness

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” (Matthew 3:1-2)

The immortal words of John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” had a great deal to do with my own salvation. I heard those words just a few days before I was saved in 1991, proclaimed from the back of pickup truck by a couple of teenagers running down an old country road near Charlotte, North Carolina.

I later learned that what I thought was a childish prank was actually a word from the Lord. God had instructed them to put a loudspeaker on the back of their pickup and ride through the countryside, repeating the same warning that John the Baptist once uttered. That voice spooked me for two days, until I gave my heart to Jesus.

The Bible tells us that John the Baptist was a little different from the mainstream Jew of his day. He lived in the wilderness, clothed himself in camel’s skins, and ate a diet that mainly included locusts and wild honey. The truth is he looked and acted more like a 1960’s hippie than a preacher.

But that’s not all. Apparently, John the Baptist took a special vow sometime around the age of 14. This vow, known as a Nazarite vow, was for people who wanted to devote themselves exclusively to God. It could be taken for as little as 30 days or as long as a lifetime, and it was always voluntary, with one exception: Parents could take it for their young children, making them Nazarites for life. (Numbers 6)

The Nazarite vow included three unusual restrictions: The hair could not be cut and the beard could not be shaved; wine and strong drink could never be tasted; and touching a dead body was taboo.

But John the Baptist wasn’t as weird as we might think. He was just devoted to God and willing to live without the trappings of privilege and wealth, even if it meant that he might stand out.

And stand out he did. People traveled for days to see him, not in the towns, but out in the wilderness around the towns he frequented. In fact, history records that in just fifteen months of active preaching, John baptized more than 100,000 believers, including Jesus.

He was one of the most charismatic preachers of all-time and then some, which is why John MacArthur once wrote: “He was the valedictorian of the prophets. The most dynamic, articulate, confrontational, and powerful spokesman God had ever called. As the last prophet, he would not only announce that the Messiah was coming, but that he has arrived.”

If that’s not enough, listen to what Jesus said of him: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11)

We need more men and women like John the Baptist. Men and women much like those two teenagers I described. Godly people, who are not ashamed of the Gospel, willing to carry on the tradition that John the Baptist started.

They’re out there if you look closely, in our modern-day wilderness, among the lost, pointing the way to Jesus.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - July 16, 2017 at 6:25 pm

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A Dying Man’s Last Words Are Something To Think About!

“Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews.” (John 19:19)

Courts have long acknowledged that there is no greater truth than the last words of a dying man. They are rarely second-guessed by judges or juries.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, it took nearly six hours for him to die. During that time, he made seven statements. I find it interesting that the number seven in the Bible is associated with perfection, completeness. God – in the Person of Jesus – had just seven things to say before he died for our sins. Indeed, the plan of redemption was perfect.

So what did Jesus say? Well his first three statements showed us how unselfish he was. There he hung, literally fighting for his life, and the first thing he thought about was others.

First, he forgave his executioners. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Second, he assured the thief that he would see him in Paradise. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) Finally, he committed his mother to the care of his good friend John. “He said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’” (John 19:26-27)

Then Jesus turns to God and plainly asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) This was an honest question. Because God’s redemptive plan was at work, God turned his back on Jesus. It was the moment of Jesus’ separation from God – something all of us will face if we don’t know Jesus as our Lord and personal savior. Jesus was hanging on the cross for our sins, and our Holy God will not tolerate sin. Jesus knew that God was no longer watching over him as he lived out the final moments of his life.

Jesus fifth statement has long been a source of confusion. “I thirst,” he said. (John 19:38) If a dying man’s last words are some of the most important, why would God waste his breath to utter, “I thirst”? The best answer I have ever heard came not from a theologian but an elderly Christian who sits in my Sunday School class every Sunday. “He died a sinner and did not have access to the river of life,” he told our class. I thought about that statement and remembered something Jesus once said: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

The last two statements that Jesus made from the cross that fateful day were declarations that God’s redemptive plan was accomplished. “It is finished,” he said. (John 19:30) Then showing the world that God in the Person of Jesus was in full control, he did not just die. He decided the moment that death would come and committed his spirit in the hands of God. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Those last hours on the Cross are why Good Friday is called GOOD Friday. Jesus died to save us from our own sins, and he rose from the grave three days later so that we could have eternal life. It was a perfect plan that can be summed up in one verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - July 9, 2017 at 8:20 am

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God Has No Use For Religion

“For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11)

Did you know that an alarming percentage of people who attend church are not saved? Look around next Sunday and think about it: God’s the only one who can really tell the difference. Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) But it’s hard to tell sometimes because “religion” can fool you.

The fact is some people attend church out of custom or habit. Their presence in the pews has nothing to do with whether they are saved or not. Going to church is a matter of religion for them, and even though they think the fact that they show up will earn them a ticket to heaven, unless and until they accept Jesus Christ, all they are really going to get in return is a one-way ticket to hell.

I ran across a Christian website the other day that dealt with the difference between religion and salvation. The author, a Texan by the name of Andy Neckar, put it this way: “Men and women are willing to believe in the moral precepts of God’s Word, as based on the Ten Commandments, while refusing to believe in, rest on, and receive God’s Son as Savior to their souls.”

He’s right. The Bible says that there is only one sure way to heaven. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Scripture is clear: God has no use for religion. Consider these observations that I gleaned from Neckar’s website, all of which are supported by God’s Word:

“RELIGION is what man does for God; SALVATION is what God does for man.” Isaiah 53:6 reminds us, “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him (Christ) the iniquity of us all.”

“RELIGION clothes us with the robes of our own righteousness and God tells us in Isaiah that our righteousness are as filthy rags. SALVATION clothes us in the perfect righteousness of Christ, which alone can make us acceptable in the sight of God.” Titus 3:5 warns, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.”

“RELIGION depends on our behaving; SALVATION depends on our believing.” That’s why Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

“RELIGION depends on the sufficiency of character; SALVATION depends on the Sacrifice of the Cross.” “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

RELIGION says we must be found in God’s house; SALVATION says must ‘be found in him (Christ), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith’.” (Philippians 3:9)

“RELIGION tries to bring us from darkness to light; SALVATION…brings us from death into life.” Jesus said it this way: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

When the altar is opened at your church on Sunday, ask God to convict those who think they are saved, but are not. Ask him to give them the strength and courage to heed his call. And if you feel him knocking on the door of your heart, for your own sake, ask him to come in. Remember, “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike - July 3, 2017 at 1:01 pm

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