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Why is Repentance Necessary?

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Why is Repentance Necessary?

Repentance is a powerful thing. Repentance eliminates any false sense of security about our relationship with God. When we willfully practice repentance, we are assuming that our relationship with God is not necessarily okay. We are willfully laying everything before the Lord and asking Him to reveal the truth about us.

Why is repentance necessary?

We settle into comfortable patterns with God. We naturally assume everything is as it needs to be, but we haven’t examined our hearts lately – and that makes repentance necessary.

Every husband knows that feeling of panic when his wife ask, “So, how do you think we are doing? Are you happy with our relationship?”

When it comes to God we must ask, “What in my life needs to be strengthened? What needs to be eliminated?” Repentance is that process.

In the Greek “repent” [metanoeô] means:

  • to have a change of heart.
  • to turn from our sin.
  • to change our direction.

In an effort to be comfortable with God we compare ourselves to others, to someone worse off in our eyes so we can feel pretty good about ourselves.

This is a trap we fall into when we are not frequent “repenters.”

In Luke 13, Jesus tells people to turn to God and change the way they think and act. “At that time some people reported to Jesus about some Galileans whom Pilate had executed while they were sacrificing animals.”[1] Jesus must have picked up on something in the tone in which they were speaking when they told him this story.

Jesus replied to them, “Do you think that this happened to them because they were more sinful than other people from Galilee?”[2] Jesus was saying, “Don’t think God judges you on a bell curve against the wrong doing of others. That’s not how it works!”

It’s amazing how judgmental and sanctimonious we can become when we talk about the sins of others.

  • We hear this kind talk all the time in political circles: “We’re the party of God; therefore, they must be the party of the devil.”
  • Do you suppose they were worse sinners because they suffered these things?

Jesus said that’s not how it works. You are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness which is accessed by consistent repentance.

The ONLY thing that keeps all of us from perishing is the grace and mercy of God. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”[3]

Listen to the complete message, “Cutting Out the Dead Wood” here.

[1] Luke 13:1 GW

[2] Luke 13:2 GW

[3] GW

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Marriage is Difficult, But Stay Committed To Finish

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Marriage is Difficult, But Stay Committed To Finish

So often when couples hit the hard times they conclude, “Something must be wrong with my marriage. I must have made a mistake. I married a difficult person. I need someone who will treat me better.” And in some situations those conclusion can be the right conclusion when it comes to abuse, adultery, etc….

But it’s very important to realize that all relationships are difficult. It doesn’t’ matter if your talking about friendships, family, church or professional relationships—they all take work.

We can feel slighted, hurt, and misunderstood, then “Miss Thang” comes along and @WOW! We think, She treats me nice; she laughs at my jokes….

And you’re in the “WOW” stage. After the newness of any relationship wears off, all that’s left is just the hard work of learning each other, of extending patience toward each other, of giving ample grace to one other.

That’s the hard work of relationships. But you if you stick with it, you hit a point where you say, “Oh my goodness! I know them; they know me, and our love has been tested and tried and stood the test of time.”

Some people sow seeds in the springtime, pull weeds in the hot summer time, but bail out before the harvest. You have to stick around for the best part!

What is something you’ve learned or are learning in your marriage?

 

Partakers of the Divine Nature of God

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Partakers of the Divine Nature of God

The more knowledge we have of our God, the greater God’s peace and grace will be multiplied in our lives.

Discipleship touches every part of your life.

2 Peter 1:3 says:

And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you.[1] 

Once again Peter points out the incredible value of discipleship. Through the increase of our knowledge of God; the power of God, the virtue of God, and the glory of God are revealed.

2 Peter 1:4 says, We have many parts in the one body, and all these parts have different functions.[2] When the Bible talks about the “promises,” it is referring to God’s Word. Through the Word of God, we partake of the divine nature of God.

Peter lays out seven essential ingredients of discipleship, in 2 Peter 1:5-7, and every one of them are vitally important!

For this very reason do your best to:

  1. add goodness to your faith;
  2. to your goodness add knowledge;
  3. to your knowledge add self-control;
  4. to your self-control add endurance;
  5. to your endurance add godliness;
  6. to your godliness add Christian affection;
  7. and to your Christian affection add love.[3]

Faith is what saved us and delivered us out of darkness into light. But every one of us have to add to our faith. We’ll explore each of these over the next few blog posts.

 

[1] GW

[2] GW

[3] 2 Peter 1:5-7 GWT

No Fear in Love

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No Fear in Love

Here’s the challenge of missions. God doesn’t call us to reach only the people who are like us. He calls us to go to people we don’t like. He calls us to people we’d prefer would go away, permanently. The Biblical mandate to love the unlovely, to care about those whose lives may be repulsive to us, is very clear.

We love our neighbors, the Canadians. We’ve never been at war with the. We keep peace with those closest to us.  But Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”[1]

The overarching message of John the disciple of love was, “They will know we are Christians by our love.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” If we truly love our enemies with the love of Christ, we won’t fear them more than we love them. We won’t be driven by a desire to see them destroyed but by a desire to see them come to Jesus.

Here’s where the story of Jonah gets real for us who are trying to serve God. The ancient city of Nineveh was located in what is today Mosul, Iraq. How appropriate.

When you think of Mosul, Iraq you probably think of Islam, Sunni, radical jihadism, and worst of all. ISIS. In June 2014, ISIS took control of the city and Mosul is now one of the most dangerous places on the face of the earth. ISIS training camps are literally located right over the ruins of Nineveh, and that is a point not missed by them. They identify with the brutal Assyrians and have adopted their terroristic plan of attack!

Can you imagine God speaking to your heart today and sending you into that darkness to declare to the members of ISIS that if they don’t change their ways and turn to the true God His wrath will fall on them?

How many of us would take that assignment? We would be like Jonah and jump on a Mediterranean cruise ship and head to Spain instead!

Jonah discovered God wanted all people to receive salvation. Much like Jonah, God wants to use you and met to show others the way.

[1] Matthew 5:43-48 NKJV

The Power of Connection

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The Power of Connection

Do you remember what happened to the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested? They scattered—they ran off to their homes—each alone. Have you ever wondered what they did for the next few days, after that horrible night? They separated from one another.

That’s a picture of what happens to us when relationships are broken, when we experience deep disappointment at church, or when we fall into personal sin. We separate. We scatter. We run off to hide.

I always feel compelled to share a disclaimer after reading Acts 2! That was the ideal church model, but the church has always been made up of broken people, who have come from dysfunctional homes. Pain happens in the context of relationships. It’s inevitable. But GROWTH also happens, and I dare say growth won’t happen without some relational pain.

72 hours after the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples couldn’t stand the separation any longer. They gathered in the upper room. And there, Jesus showed up!

Jesus revealed Himself to them.

They experienced the fulfillment of Jesus promise: “Where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them.”[1] They came together, united, and they touched Jesus. That night Jesus revealed things they would have never seen had they remained separate and alone.

But there was one who didn’t come. Scripture doesn’t tell us why Thomas didn’t show, but it does tell us the result on his faith. Thomas missed out on the revelation of Jesus. He refused to believe until he could see it for himself.  That’s exactly the point. There are certain revelations, certain faith building moments that are only revealed where two or three are gathered in His name.

We give Life Groups a lot of flexibility.  Some are heavily focused on study of the Bible. Others line up around prayer. One group meets to make prayer shawls. The prayer shawl ministry plays an important part in the food pantry ministry. Some around the breaking of bread. But all groups seek spiritual relationships that lead to life.

If you don’t have a LIFE GROUP you’re connected to, explore our groups here, or contact Drew Bontrager, Connections Pastor at drewbontrager@lakeviewchurch.org. He’d love to help you get connected to a group where you share an interest.

Listen to the full message here.

[1] Matthew 18:20 GWT

Ten Days that Felt Like 30

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Ten Days that Felt Like 30

 

Last fall there was a time when I felt like I lived 30 days in the past 10 days. I left on a Thursday for a men’s survival trip—the 4th Musketeer. The 4th Musketeer is Jesus making the journey through the mountains withus. When you’ve been pushed physically, it opens your heart to the spiritual. They gave us a jug of water and a bag of food, and I my the backpack on my back. They broke us into teams for a three-day hike through the mountains. I did things I’d never done before. I always thought I wanted to climb a mountain, but when I got there I thought, I don’t want to do that.

When you get to the end of your reserve and think there is no more, it becomes God’s strength on the inside of you that will get you through.

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6 NKJV).

Once our adventure was completed and we were headed back home, I got a phone call about an hour outside of town. It was my wife, Dorene’s mother, and she was frantic. “Marvin is dead!” she said. While watching a football game, her son died of a heart attack.

I got home and took a shower for the first time in 72 hours. Then I drove to Peru, Indiana to be with family. They made funeral arrangements for later in the week and asked me to officiate the service. In the midst of that, I boarded a plane and flew to Minneapolis for a board meeting. I’m the Chairman of the Board for a particular organization and there was a lot to do. Then, the day of Marvin’s funeral, Dorene’s aunt died—her mother’s sister-in-law.

I can honestly say, in those moments when we feel we have nothing left, I have found strength from God. When there is no one else to turn to—we can turn to Him. He provides exactly what we need, when we need it.

 

Finding Strength When We Think We Have None

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Finding Strength When We Think We Have None

So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep (1 Samuel 30:3-4 NKJV)

David and his mighty men returned to their camp to find their enemy had burned the city and taken their women and children. David and his men wept until they couldn’t weep anymore. Have you ever done that—cried until there were no more tears? David’s men were so grief-stricken, they turned their anger and pain toward him. In the midst of their anxiety, they talked of stoning David.

How do we find strength when we think there is nothing left?

One of my favorite writers, Corrie ten Boom said, “Papa, I don’t think I have the faith to handle real trouble. I don’t know what I’d do if you should die. I don’t think I have the faith that some people have to face trouble.”[1] To which her father replied, “When your father says he will send you to the store tomorrow, does he give the money to you today? No, he gives it to you when you are ready to go to the store.” She lost her father and all of her family because they hid Jews during the Holocaust.

God doesn’t give us the grace until we need it. The harder we are pressed, the more we experience His grace. Everyone around David seemed to be falling apart, but David fell into the arms of God. He knew how to strengthen himself in the Lord.

How do we strengthen ourselves? When life seems to be crumbling down around us, how do we reach down and find the strength we need?

  1. Sometimes we find strength in ourselves.
  2. Sometimes we find strength in our friends.
  3. Sometimes we find strength in our work.
  4. Every time we find strength, it is in God alone.

For more on this topic, listen to the podcast, Finding Strength When We Think We Have None

[1] Toler, Stan. God Has Never Failed Me, But He’s Sure Scared Me to Death a Few Times. Colorado Springs, CO.  David C. Cook Distribution. 2009.

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