What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:14-18)

The Gospel is a message of TRANSFORMATION and change. When I got saved there was a change of direction — I was headed AWAY from God and His Son Jesus Christ, but now my direction is TOWARD Him, with Him. There was a change in my desires — I was selfish, I coveted, I was insincere, but now my desire is to be like Jesus — to show His love to a lost world. When I got saved, there was a change in my disposition — my future was hopeless. Without the grace of God in my life, the best I could do was live for NOW. BUT when I was saved, I got a new disposition. The love and grace of Jesus  Christ has affected my heart as well as my head. His peace indwells my spirit and gives me rest in the midst of the insanity of this world. God’s salvation gave me a new dimension. Before, my goals were earthly, temporary and limited to the number of years that I might live in this body. THANK GOD because of His salvation, my aim is beyond — I’m living for the future. I’m just a pilgrim passing through this world toward my real home.

Does any of what I have written above resonate in your life? Has your life been totally TRANSFORMED by the power of God’s salvation?

Think about the Apostle Paul. As you read the verses from Ephesians, you can understand why Paul was such a great advocate of the Gospel. Had anyone experienced it’s life-changing power more fully than had Paul? On the road to Damascus his aim had been to persecute every Christian he might find. But when he met Jesus Christ on that road, a great direction change took place in Paul’s life. One day his greatest desire had been to wipe out Christianity and eliminate all who practiced it. But he was TRANSFORMED by the power of God’s grace. He was changed. Thank God!

The greatest need in our nation today is not for a new president or new congress or new laws. Our greatest need is for those whose lives have truly been transformed by the Gospel to live like we have truly been changed. Are there any people in your life who would be surprised to find out that you are a Christian? If so, you need to check and make sure you are truly saved. Nobody wondered about the change that took place in Paul’s life and neither should they wonder about me and you.

You don’t have to be a theologian with many degrees in order to give an effective witness for the Lord. All you need is to acknowledge that because of the grace of God, your life has been CHANGED! We’ve been changed not by our works or any merit we possess but we have been changed by the grace of God.

Let’s get out there and tell everybody we see about the difference Jesus has made in our life!

Have a great day.

A View from My High Horse…

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

It is often helpful to look at verses in different translations just to gain understanding into the meaning of the verse. Read our verse today in other versions…

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (NIV)

“For yourself, concentrate on winning God’s approval, on being a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advantage.” (Phillips)

“Do your best to win full approval in God’s sight, as a worker who is not ashamed of his work, one who correctly teaches the message of God’s truth.” (TEV)

While it is not necessary that you have a graduate degree from some school of theology before you can serve God effectively, it is true that God places no premium on ignorance!

Much has been said and written about the remarks made by President Obama at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast. I’m not going to go into that here. The President’s remarks served as a reminder to me that I should be very careful about making pronouncements without a proper context. In the case of the President, he attempted to draw a moral equivalency between the acts of extreme Islamic terrorists and the actions which occurred during the Crusades. For the record — there simply is no equivalency. A simple history lesson would show this to be true.

The old saying — “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts,” — seems to be appropriate. Accusing Christians of being on a “high horse” was probably not an appropriate choice of words for the President to use if he was actually trying to advance the conversation about terrorism.

“So what’s your point Pastor? Are you suggesting that Christians are always right and you never do anything wrong?”

Of course not. What I am trying to teach here is that as believers, we have a responsibility to exhibit maturity, skill and competency when we speak. As believers, this text is intended to remind us that ultimately we don’t want to do anything that would cause us to be ashamed before God.

Think of it this way…if you were a bricklayer, would you be proud of a crooked wall of bricks? If you built furniture, would you be proud of a table with each leg at different lengths?

Paul is encouraging Timothy (and you and me) to present himself to God and to do what is necessary to become a skilled worker who “correctly handles the word of truth.”

From a practical standpoint, let me suggest a few things you and I can do so that we are competent in our ministry for the Lord.

The King James Version says we should “study to show thyself approved unto God.” Competency requires study. Only as we study God’s Word can we be skilled. Before you or I go spouting off about what God says or does, we should make sure we have done everything possible to rightly handles His Word as He intended.

Read the Bible regularly. Spend time EVERY DAY listening to God as He speaks through the Scripture.

Read the Bible subjectively. While the Bible contains history, it is not merely a record of what happened in the past. The Bible is a living Word used by God to speak to you and me in this present day in which we live.

Read the Bible intelligently. Make sure you understand the historical context of the passage. Understand the language, the figures of speech and terminology. Study logically — not merely looking for a verse to “prove your point.” Remember, the Bible is a record of God’s self-revelation. Only the Holy Spirit can truly unlock the secrets of His Word and reveal to us the great truths contained in this wonderful Book.

Read the Bible prayerfully. Ask God to give you the proper attitude when you are using His Word to speak to others. Don’t be ashamed of what the Bible teaches. Don’t back down from what the text says just because it is not popular in today’s culture — but always present the Biblical material with love and grace.

The President created a firestorm simply because he presented an opinion as if it were fact. Pastors, Sunday school teachers, and every Christian should study God’s Word so that when we speak, we won’t have to be ashamed because we have misrepresented it. If we study diligently and present ourselves joyfully to the Lord, it is highly unlikely that we will be ashamed of ourselves or of our lives when we stand before our precious Lord.

Have a great day.