Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'm A Work In Progress

In true Baptist form, I resist change in my life a great deal.  For those of you who don’t really know me, I am an O.C.D. routine oriented person.  I like to know what I am doing, when I am doing it and who I am doing it with.  So, as you can imagine change is difficult on me.  However, I am realizing more and more that God is the greatest change agent this world has ever seen.

God literally turned the world upside down when He sent His Son into this world.  What Jesus did to the religious system that had been set for hundreds of years was radical.  He came preaching and teaching a message that was diametrically opposed to what the people had been taught all their lives.  Suddenly, instead of the rigors of religion as their way of salvation they were to place faith in a man who was unlike anything they had ever known.

Such is the case with our lives even today.  Paul wrote to the Romans in chapter 12, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The word, “transformed” is where we get our word metamorphosis.  There can be no bigger change than that.  The Bible speaks that when someone is saved the old things of their life are gone and now all things are new.  That is change.

However, the change doesn’t end there.  We are constantly being changed in our lives day by day.  God is always pruning and molding His people and making them what He wants them to be.  Unfortunately, many people, like me, resist such change in their lives.  We get very comfortable in our current lifestyle and don’t want anything to rock the boat.  I am learning more and more each day that I have to be moldable to God’s will in my life.  No matter how much it may sting or make me uncomfortable, I must be obedient to the work of God in every area of my life.  If I resist the change in my life that God is trying to make, it is pride.  Pride makes us believe that we know better than God.  Pride causes us to do things our way and refuse to change.  Change, when initiated by God, is the best thing for you.

Remember, God is always working on you.  He is always trying to make you something you can’t be on your own.  Don’t resist the change, but rather welcome it.  Welcome it as the working of God in your life.  You are a work in progress.  And thanks be unto God that He cares enough to continue to work on us!

Monday, February 25, 2013

You’re Not Good Enough To Be Saved

I have spoken with countless number of people who tell me, “The devil says I’m good enough to be saved.”  My answer to that my come as a surprise to you.  I respond to that statement with, “He’s right, you’re not.”  You should see the looks I get when I say that.  I want to take just a moment and explain to you why I believe that is the case.

First, none of us are good.  There is not one person, excluding Jesus, that has ever lived on this Earth that is good enough to deserve salvation.  The thought that anyone could ever achieve a level of goodness that could elevate them to salvation is preposterous.  The Bible says that none of us are good.  I think that pretty much sums up our goodness.  Isaiah wrote that our righteousness is like “filthy rags”.  I won’t take the time to go into detail of what that entails, but trust me; it is not a good picture.

Second, we are dead.  Paul told the church at Ephesus that we all “dead in our trespasses and sins”.  If we are dead spiritually, what we need is to be made alive spiritually.  Have you ever known a dead person raise them self from the dead?  NO!  That has never nor will ever happen.  If we are dead, we are dead.  We can’t do anything about us being dead.  We were physically born spiritually dead.

Well, that leads to the question, “Is anyone saved?”  Absolutely!  However, we are only saved by the grace of God.  It has nothing to do with anything that we have done that might could have earned that salvation, but rather it is the free gift of God’s grace found in Jesus Christ.  Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  God grants us the grace and faith to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord therefore, we are saved.

It is very comforting to know that it is not up to my righteous ability to save myself.  If that were the case I couldn’t sleep.  I would be constantly worrying if I had accomplished enough to earn salvation.  So, the next time the devil whispers in your ear that you aren’t good enough to be saved, make sure you tell him that he is right.  Then tell him you aren’t depending upon yourself to be saved.  Salvation is a work of God.   

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My First Responsibility

I often get asked, “What is your greatest responsibility as a pastor?” When people ask that question, they are expecting answers like preaching, administration and such. However, my answer has never been any of those things. My answer is the same answer that you should give when asked what your greatest responsibility is. Our greatest responsibility is to live holy lives before God. It doesn’t matter what your vocation is, as a follower of Christ, you have the ultimate responsibility to live a godly life.

I have learned that when I focus on living godly that all the other responsibilities take care of themselves. I’m a much better husband when I am living holy. I’m a much better father when I am living holy. I’m a much better son and brother when I am living holy. I’m a much better pastor when I am living holy. I hope by now you get the point. There are a lot of things that happen in life that we have no control over. However, the depth of our holiness is not one of those things.

I challenge you to make living holy your first responsibility, then watch what God does with the other areas of your life. I leave you with 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Understanding the Bible

Let’s face it; the Bible can be tough to understand. If you have been a student of the Bible for any length of time you have realized that some passages in Scripture are harder to discern than others. In my own life there has been numerous times that I have wrestled with a particular passage for some time striving to discover what that Scripture means. I want to give you the practical things that I do when I read the Bible which help me get the meaning of the text.

1. Pray- It is vitally important that you ask God to illuminate your mind to the truths of His Word. Because the Word is full of meaning, we need the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit in discerning what God wants us to learn from that passage. So, before you ever begin reading, make sure you ask for the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

2. Stay- It is always easy to go to a book that someone else has written and look at what they think the passage means however, I would challenge you not to do that initially. Kenneth Ridings, former President of Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, told us in class, “Never ever leave the text until you have a word from the text.” I have shelves of commentaries in my office that give me the opinion of other godly men, but I desire to know what God wants me to know. Don’t get frustrated to the point of leaving the text, but rather stay in the text. I would suggest reading the passage over and over until God illuminates your mind to the truth.

3. Write- Sometimes in my life reading the passage repeatedly has not been enough. There are times that I have prayed that God would illuminate my mind to the truth, I have read that particular passage dozens of times, but I still have no idea what God is telling me. When that takes place and I feel stuck, I take the time to write that passage. (Notice I said write not type! They still make paper and pens.) This can be strenuous but I have found a lot of advantages in doing this. One of the greatest advantages is you have to slow down. You cannot write as fast as you read therefore, it takes you more time to get through that passage. Also, writing the passage causes you to concentrate more on the words of the text. You concentrate more because you have to read the words and then write them on a piece of paper.

Most of the time, once I have taken these steps the Lord grants me the grace to discover the truths in the passage. I pray this helps you stay in the Word even when you feel the meaning is eluding you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Fresh Start

We all need a fresh start sometimes. I have spent some time looking back at my blog and wondered, "What was I thinking?" The Lord has continued to shape and prune me into what He desires me to be. By the way, I am not there by any stretch of the imagination. So, beginning next week, I will be updating this blog. The topics will range from the Bible, ministry, the church, family and who else knows! I am looking forward to this fresh start! I look forward to putting my thoughts and meditations on this blog. I hope you will take the journey with me. Let's grow together!