Are We Telling The World?

Jesus has delivered us from sin and death! So why aren’t we proclaiming the Gospel from the rooftops?

For decades, Western culture has told us that religion is a private matter, not to be discussed in polite conversation. It warns us that people might get offended if we evangelize them. And in recent years, various entities have taken measures to silence Christians altogether.

The intimidation has a much greater effect on us than it should, I’m sorry to say. I regret that, though I’m bold when I write,  I struggle with face-to-face evangelism. And I suspect a lot of you share my struggle. We shrink from telling people the good news because culture demands that we do so!

But think about the power of the Gospel in your life. Think about how Jesus rescued you from an eternity in hell and liberated you from slavery to sin. Don’t you want everyone to know that same joy and freedom? Don’t you want everyone to glorify Him by singing His praises?

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To Save A Wretch Like Me

Our Christian life is victorious. Certainly we should celebrate our victory over sin and death, as well as the temporal blessings and answered prayers God gives us. Truly, we live lives that overflow with a quality of joy that non-Christians can’t begin to imagine!

But the real victory is our salvation. In and of ourselves, we’re miserable wretches, totally incapable of any godliness. Yet Jesus took our sin on Himself, giving us His righteousness in exchange! He made us His own possession, though we did nothing to merit His favor. What a stunning victory!

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Totally Dependent On Christ, And Happy To Be So

Wouldn’t it be terrible if obtaining and maintaining our salvation depended on our efforts? I would have lost mine decades ago! Actually, I never would have had it with the first place.

Praise God, Jesus Christ took pity on my helplessness, fully aware that nothing I could do would make me right with Him. In His mercy, He shed His innocent blood on the cross, declaring me righteous! What amazing grace!

Sometimes, however, I forget my absolute dependence on Him for my salvation. I’ll believe that He responded to my initial act of faith, or that He keeps me because of my obedience and service to Him. I’ll congratulate myself on how well I understand doctrine, how consistent I am in praying and how earnestly I praise Him in church.

In those times, I must remember that my righteousness is completely in Christ. What a wonderful reason to rejoice!

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I Thought I Knew, But I Still Have No Idea

When Christ convicted my 17-year-old heart of sin and then sent somebody to tell me that He paid for my sin, I knew that I owed him my very life. Like most teenagers, I was absolutely convinced that I understood both the magnitude of His atoning work on the cross and the depths of my sin.

I knew neither.

In my prayer time lately I’ve been pondering the fact that I really don’t understand how truly wretched I am. The Lord occasionally gives me glimpses of how horrendous my sin actually is, but much of a time I struggle to see how profoundly sinful I am. I know it intellectually, but my emotions resist that knowledge. And thus I confess that I have no idea how great a debt I owe the Lord.

Praise the Lord for erasing that debt, even as He shields me from the devastating realization of it. In heaven, once He frees me from the effects of sin that continue to cling to me, He will show me the extent of His mercy. Then I’ll understand how much I owe.

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Ever Only All For Thee

January is three short days away, and it’s understandable that we’re thinking about the New Year. Whether we make resolutions at this time of year or not, something in us feels an urge to start over — to avoid our past sins and to serve God better.

I applaud such aspirations. We should cultivate desires to serve and honor the Lord at all times of the year. He is worthy of such devotion!  If New Year’s resolutions help you rekindle your love for Him, I most assuredly support you in making them! And if, like me, you approach repentance and sanctification as a daily process, I equally support you.

Either way, we can rejoice that God Himself takes our meager offerings of ourselves and uses those offerings for His glory. We can trust Him to consecrate us for Himself.

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Isaiah’s Christmas Hymn

Strictly speaking, Handel’s Messiah probably isn’t a hymn. Yet he uses Scripture throughout the work, weaving a rich theology that steadily brings attention to Christ. Maybe in that respect we might consider it as a beautiful series of hymns — largely from the Old Testament.

Of course, Handel’s most famous movement in the piece is the Hallelujah Chorus. Indeed, he packed it with marvelous bits of theology about Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Powerful stuff!

But another movement, taken from Isaiah 9:6, ties Christ’s reign as King of kings and Lord of lords to His birth. While not as fully developed as the Hallelujah Chorus, this movement reminds us that the Son given to us is infinitely more than a Child.

Since I won’t blog again until December 26, I leave you with Isaiah’s Christmas Hymn and wishes for a Merry Christmas from both me and John.

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Life Gets Uncomfortable And Joyless

At this time of year, expectations soar. We long for that perfect holiday, when friends and family fulfill all our secret desires, having no needs or wants of their own. Of course, we take it for granted that we and our loved ones will be happy and healthy.  It’s Christmastime, after all, and life should be a living Norman Rockwell painting.

Alas, we often face disappointments throughout the year. Worse, hardships and trials don’t take a break between November 30 and January 2. As a matter of fact, we feel disappointments all the more acutely  this time of year precisely because we cultivate expectations of perfection.

Life gets uncomfortable and joyless at many times of the year. In those bleak times, however, Christ calls us to find our comfort and joy in Him rather than in our circumstances. As we remember the amazing story of His birth and the reason for His first coming, we remember that Christmas isn’t about our temporal desires, but instead about Him. And such realizations bring tidings of comfort and joy.

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