Evangelical?

Did you know that Evangelicals are those who are sharing good news? In fact the word evangelical is transliterated from a Greek word that means “good news” or “good tidings.” As is often the case, when someone reports the truth of a situation, it generally involves good news and bad news. In the case of Evangelicals, many people never get past the bad news to hear the good news.

The bad news is that most people are dead in their trespasses and sins, walking in a spirit of disobedience as they follow the flow of a world and dark powers that are in rebellion against God. They are also fulfilling the lusts of their flesh and minds and are by nature “children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

That was the bad news. Most people react so strongly to someone telling them what God says is true about their lost condition that they refuse to hear anything past that. This is truly unfortunate since grasping the good news is contingent upon accepting the hopelessness of one’s situation, so that God’s good news is seen as the truly great and remarkable prize that it is.

The good news is that in spite of the helpless and hopeless state that mankind finds himself in, God loves each and every person so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us. What you can never do by your own effort, God freely offers to do for you, if you will believe in Jesus, who He is, and what He has done.

Jesus paid the price for your sin that you can never pay. Will you believe in Jesus and receive the gift of forgiveness as you receive Him as Son of God and Savior?

An Evangelical Christian simply put, is one who is sharing the good news of God’s salvation. The fact that many people do not want to hear the bad news of their lost state causes them to react strongly against efforts to get to the good news. This is so sad since that good news that they refuse to listen to is the only news that will really matter in eternity.

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

Exceeding Righteousness

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

With multitudes following Him early in His ministry, Jesus sat down to teach them. He taught not as the scribes, but as one having authority. He stated that He had not come to destroy the Law, but fulfill it. Till heaven and earth pass away, the Law shall remain, He taught. Anyone who breaks one of the least of the commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

Following these eye-opening statements comes an even more remarkable one. To even be in the kingdom of heaven to be called least, He stated that one’s righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

This was most remarkable because as far as keeping the Law was concerned, the scribes and the Pharisees had dedicated their lives to studying, memorizing, and living the most minute details of the Law to the best of human ability to do so.

Jesus stated in no uncertain terms that one’s righteousness must exceed the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Implicit in this statement is the fact that the scribes and Pharisees were not going to enter the kingdom.

If those who had dedicated their lives to keeping the Law could not do it well enough to enter the kingdom, what chance did ordinary men and women who were busy working and raising families? The obvious conclusion: NO CHANCE!

This was exactly the truth that Jesus was trying to get us to see. By works of the Law shall no flesh be saved!

The obvious question? How can anyone be saved? Here again was the truth that Jesus wanted them to ask, and seek, and knock to find. We need a Savior! God was in Jesus the Messiah providing Him. The truth, the answer to their every hope and question was standing before them. To the one who believed in Him, though he died, yet he is alive.

The same truth faces us today. The Law still stands. How can we who have not even tried to keep it hope to be saved by it? We cannot. How then can we enter into the kingdom of heaven? There is only one name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. That is the name of Jesus.

Why Do You Do?

The story is told of a woman who cooked wonderful hams for her family. When she cooked a ham, the first thing that she did was cut off one end of the ham and throw it away. Presently it came to pass that someone questioned her about why she always cut the end of her ham off when preparing it. This person was obviously not content with just enjoying good ham, but was probably documenting the mysteries of the universe, one of which was why cutting off the end of a ham prior to cooking would make better tasting ham.

The woman replied that she cut off the end because her mother had always done so. Becoming curious herself, she asked her mother why she cut the end of her hams off before cooking.

The mother replied that she did so because her mother had always done so. They went to the grandmother and asked her why she cut the end of her hams off before cooking them. What was the secret of culinary excellence wrapped up in this ritual? The grandmother replied that she had a short baking pan and that she cut the end of the ham off because that was the only way it would fit in the pan.

The tradition of cutting off the end of the ham by the daughter and granddaughter added nothing to the wonderful flavor of their meals. Rather it was just a waste of another delicious sandwich or two.

Jesus gave the apostle John the instruction to send letters to seven churches in the first century. These churches which are churches that belong to Jesus because He bought them with His own blood were both commended for the things they were doing right, and criticized for the things they were doing wrong.

The first church that had a letter sent to it was the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7). This church with a rich history was commended by Jesus for the many things that they were doing right and well. They worked hard. They were still laboring patiently after 40 years of expecting Jesus to return at any minute. They could not bear evil people. They knew this was Jesus church and should be holy because He is holy. They tested all that taught there and revealed any that were false teachers. Finally, they were commended again for their perseverance. They were still doing all these good things faithfully just as they always had.

Jesus just had one criticism. He told them, “you have left your first love.” They were still doing good things. They had just lost sight of the reason they were to be doing them. They had forgotten what it was like when they first saw that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, the Creator of the universe, and yet He loved them so much that He offered His body as a sacrifice for their sin. He became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

What otherworldly love He showered on them. Was it any wonder that they joyfully gave themselves into His service out of love for Him? Can you imagine any other response possible if you really behold the unbelievable love that God has bestowed on us?

Their service continued until the present. The reason and motivation for the service had not. Jesus said that this was unacceptable! Unless they remembered that first reason of love, repented, and started doing it for the right reason again, He warned them that they would cease to exist as a church.

Jesus is more interested in our love than any other thing. If we love Him the right actions will follow naturally. Is your love for Jesus such that you are joyfully serving Him, or are you just going through the motions because that is what you and others have always done?

Confessions of a Transgressor

There are some who would say that denial is a river in Egypt. Unfortunately most of those people are in fact living in denial (hope they don’t drown in it). In fact a good portion of mankind is in a continual state of denial about the existence of sin, and of its very real presence in their own lives.

John writes in his first letter, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Many people walk around continually in this state of denial and self-deceiving.

My grandfather had a saying, “It doesn’t affect me – affect me – affect me …” He would use it when there was some self-denial going on. The point being that we could claim something had nothing to do with us, when in fact its effects were profound enough to cause serious dysfunction to be occurring. Denying the truth did not negate its effects.

The greatest sickness of man is the fact that our sin has separated us from God. Denying that reality does not negate the devastating effects of the separation. Nothing can be truly right when we are denied the relationship with our Creator for which we were created.

How do we find the cure to this sickness? The first step to a cure is confession. When David was miserably affected by the denial of his sin, the first step to relief was confession.

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Psalm 32:5

There is great power in finding the relief of guilt coming from the forgiveness of God. He will not offer that relief until we confess the sin.

Confession is not telling God something He does not know. Confession is agreeing with God about the reality of the sin in our life. Why deny that reality? Who are you really fooling? Who are you really hurting?

Thank God we have a Savior who loves us and gave Himself up to pay the full penalty for our sin. Thank you Jesus! Confess your sin today and receive the gift of forgiveness offered by the loving Savior.

Heavy Hands

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah Psalm 32:4

A fighter who is said to have heavy hands is one who has devastating punching power, one who is able to hurt you or knock you out at any time. There is no one in the entire universe that has heavier hands than the Lord. He could take any of us out at any time.

Thankfully the Lord is long suffering and full of mercy. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. In fact He is so gracious that He gives us what we don’t deserve, the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus’ sacrificial death in our place.

That grace doesn’t mean that God will tolerate His children living in sin. Any one who has tried, has found out like King David just how heavy the Lord’s hands are. Bow your neck and continue to go your own way and the loving blows of the Lord will turn your vitality into a sea of misery, or as David puts it “into the drought of summer.”

Why do we inflict such pain on ourselves through our stubborn rebellion? The Lord is just trying to get us to go the way that is best for us anyway. Truly “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

We are such fools to want that which will only hurt us, when we can have all that the Lord wants for us which will be such a blessing to our soul. Lord, let your heavy hands train us quickly to confess our sin and turn to you for your great blessing.

That by all means we may save some