Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Romans' Road

I’d like to take you for a walk through “The Romans’ Road.” It is a simple walk through a series of verses that portray a picture of the Gospel in a nutshell. These verses explain the state of man and the Atonement of Christ.

Let’s start at Romans 3:10: “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one;’” This verse explains that no one is good. Everyone is a sinner and is fallible. We have all done something wrong at one time or another.

The next stop is Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” We often compare ourselves to each other when the One we should be comparing ourselves to is God. Because He is sinless and perfect we will always fall short of His glory. So one may ask, “If we always fall short of God then what’s the point in trying to be like Him? How could we have a relationship with Him?” God created us to have fellowship with Him and to worship Him. He didn’t want a bunch of robots going around repeating “I love you” to Him. He wanted real love, a love that comes from the heart with sincerity. He already knows that we fail and fall; He knew you before you were born (Psalm 139:16). Because God is holy, perfect, and just, our sin separates us from Him. That’s why He sent His only Son to die for each of us, to pay the price for our sins, so that we could have a way to Him, and everlasting life (John 3:16).

And that leads us to our next stop: Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God knew that man would fall. If He would’ve tried to stop Adam and Eve then they wouldn’t have had free will. Imagine someone loving you so much that they would give their life for you. God’s sacrificial love is what this verse is showing us. God came in the flesh, endured the same temptations we do, lived a holy and sinless life, and then suffered the most horrible death ever imaginable, all because of His love for you. Christ knew that many would reject Him, but He still died for them. My pastor often says, “It wasn’t nails that held up Jesus on the cross, it was His love for us.”

The next stop on The Romans’ Road is Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” This verse alludes to the fall of man, when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God. Because men pass on the seed that brings offspring, and because Adam had fallen into sin, he passed the fall (sinful nature) on to his offspring, and because of procreation, sin has been passed on to all of man.

Romans 6:23 states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sin leads to separation from a holy God and leads to spiritual death. If you die separated from God this will lead to destruction and death for all eternity. Because God does not want anyone to be separated from Him (2 Peter 3:9), He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the ultimate sacrifice and to give life to anyone who believes and trusts in Him (John 3:16).

God has given us all a choice. We can choose to accept His free gift of Salvation or not. Romans 10:9 says: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The word “saved” that this verse is mentioning means being saved from eternal separation from God; it is also about being saved from eternity in Hell. Hell is real: Matthew 10:28 says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” God gave us a way so that we would never be separated from Him, through believing (trusting) in His Son, Jesus Christ, as our only hope of salvation.

Jesus is the only way into heaven; Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters” (Luke 11:23). And He also said, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

The final stop on The Romans’ Road is Romans 10:13: “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Salvation is offered to everyone. It doesn’t matter your past or what you’ve done. God is ready to forgive and give life to those who believe. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God knows your past and He has a great future planned for you. All you have to do is believe in Him, take Him at His word.

We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Some of you may be thinking, “I’m not a sinner! I’ve never murdered anyone or stolen anything!” Have you ever lied, cheated, done wrong to someone? If you have you’re a sinner. Sin separates us from God. In the Old Testament, sacrifices had to be made to cover over sins, but when Jesus came and died on the cross, He became the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. He paid the debt we couldn’t pay so that we wouldn’t have to. When has someone ever loved you that much? Jesus could have called the whole thing off, could have given in, but He didn’t. He endured the cross because of His love for you. If you think being a follower of Christ is about rules and regulations you’ve got it all wrong. God gave us the Bible so that we can know His will for our lives, and that we may live an abundant life (John 10:10). He wants only the best for us (Jeremiah 29:11). He also gave us the Bible so that we can understand His character, attributes, and His love for us. He died in your place; you were worth that much to Him.

References: Gideon's//Three Hundred//Tactical Guide; the Bible, New International Version (NIV)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Walking Away

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
– 1 Peter 1:13-19

Many times we find ourselves in places we don’t want to be in or with people we don’t need to be hanging out with. In those times we know we need to walk away but it can be hard. I recently went to the movies with my boyfriend and a group of friends to see the movie Watchmen. We discussed the movie afterwards and decided that we had just wasted three hours of our lives. The movie was blasphemous as it attempted to portray an image of God that was wrong and deceitful. It had nudity and detailed sex scenes. After the movie we each talked about how we wanted to get up but for some reason we never did. I felt uncomfortable throughout the whole movie and wanted to leave but the thoughts of how much the tickets cost, and the snacks, and what the others would think all popped into my mind. When we discussed how we felt after the movie we pointed out how we needed to be stronger as Christians. We are supposed to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:16).The discomfort we felt throughout the movie was the Holy Spirit telling us to get up and leave.

You may think that watching movies you shouldn’t be watching or listening to jokes you shouldn’t be listening to is not going to do anything to you, but it does. When you open your mind to these things you give the Devil a foot into the door of your mind. You can usually tell when you are doing something you’re not supposed to be doing if you start trying to reason with the Spirit. For example, you feel inside that something is wrong and you shouldn’t be listening to it or watching it. Then you start trying to reason, trying to justify your actions. You can also tell if what you’re doing is wrong when you read God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible is a blueprint of how God wants us to live our lives. He tells us things we shouldn’t do because He loves us and wants what’s best for us. God’s will for our lives is in His Word. He wants us to live righteously. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

God wants us to have pure minds and hearts. If you find yourself doing something that would not please God, ask yourself, is it worth disappointing God? Ask yourself, what’s the least I can do to honor what Jesus did for me? And, yes, there are temptations out there, and, yes, we will fall. This doesn’t give us a right to sin. Jesus reminded the disciples in Matthew 26:41 that “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us that when we are tempted, God will always give us a way out. It’s hard to stand up to friends, or family who will make fun of us because we choose to honor God instead of pleasing the flesh, but it’s a comforting reminder to remember that God became a man and endured all the temptations that we have. Jesus Christ understands what we are going through and how hard it is to walk away from something that seems good but isn’t. He was tempted and endured and came out blameless (Hebrews 4:15). Through Christ we can do anything (Philippians 4:13), we can even get the strength to walk away from something we shouldn’t be around.

We should live to honor God. God has a plan for us better than anything we could ever come up with. Stick to His perfect will, seek Him in everything, read His Word, and talk to Him. He knows your heart and He will love you no matter what. Let’s not only honor and proclaim our love for Him with our mouths, but with our actions as well.

Read John 17

References: The Bible, NKJV

Friday, March 6, 2009

Draw Near to God

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

- James 4:8

The Bible tells us that God will draw near to us if we draw near to Him (James 4:8) and it’s true. I have recently begun to understand the meaning of drawing near to God. When I was upset or frustrated, instead of turning on the T.V. or radio, I opened the Bible and sought after God. I wanted to know what God wanted me to do when something was going a certain way, I wanted Him to guide me and take control of the situation. God spoke to me through His Word. His Word truly is living and breathing. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God speaks to us through His Word and not only does His Word challenge us and give us knowledge but it gives us insight into who God is and how He works.

When you don’t feel like getting into God’s word is when you need to do it the most. When you are abstaining from something and are tempted to stray off that road you need to open the Word. His Word is His light for our paths (PSALM 119:105). It is “Salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). God gave us direction and guidance in His Word. In the Bible we may also learn about His saving grace, through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can learn about the character of God. He is awesome and great and He loved you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you. God is big and powerful, but He does care about the things going on in your life, however insignificant you think they may be.

Prayer is another way we can draw nearer to God. Communication is a key factor for a relationship to be successful. Talking to God keeps the line of communication open and keeps your relationship with Him strong. You don’t have to use big words or “thee’s” and “thou’s” to talk to Him. God already knows your heart and He’s ready to listen to you anytime of day and no matter where you are. You can talk to God while your driving (eyes open, of course) or even while you’re standing in line to get food. I encourage you to keep your eyes on Him and your mind set on His will and purpose for your life, and you can do that through prayer and reading His Word. God is the Creator of the universe but He is also your friend and He loves you. If you read Psalms you can see how David talked to God. David was open and honest with God, he cried out to Him and longed for God to guide and speak to him. David would even pretty much tell God what he wanted Him to do but one thing David always did was acknowledge who God is.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God first and then all the things we worry about will be added to you (according to God’s perfect will). I challenge you, whenever you get frustrated or have time to spare, open God’s Word and breathe in what He breathed out. God will see that you are seeking Him and He will honor that. Take the time to go into His Word. Draw near to Him. Seek Him with all your heart and He will draw near to you.

References: The Bible, NKJV