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O.J. Simpson, Parole and Walking before God

Dear Friends, I hope you are doing well. Today I want you to live in such a way that you joyfully walk before the Lord with all your heart, out of joyful gratitude and desire, not out of duty or fear.

Did you see that OJ Simpson is going before his parole board? They will determine if he has served enough of his sentence to be released on parole. But even if he is released, there will be some pretty stiff conditions. He will have to walk the straight and narrow for several years, no more kidnapping people and threatening them at gunpoint.oj-simpson-parole-hearing-04-abc-jc-170720_4x3_992

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE ON PAROLE?

I think a lot of times we as Christians, feel as though we are on parole. We know that Jesus has paid our sentence for us and now we are out of jail so to speak. But we still have these conditions we think that God places on us. You know, we’ve been forgiven of our past sins, but if we screw up too much in the future then we are back in the graybar hotel. I’m not sure why we keep thinking that our relationship with God is so conditional and that God would be so fickle with us and our inability to stay out of trouble.

The Bible just doesn’t speak this way about our salvation nor about our ongoing relationship with God through Jesus.

There’s a great passage in 1 Kings 8 where King Solomon has just finished building the Temple for God and he prays a prayer of dedication. In that prayer he says this in verse 23,

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on the earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart…”

IS GOD AT THE CENTER OR YOU?

Too often we read a passage like this and we quickly focus on our role in “walking before the Lord with all our heart.” That always seems to be our first inclination, to rush to our duty in our relationship with God. But remember, this is not a prayer about duty, it’s a prayer of dedication, to the LORD! King Solomon is dedicating this temple to the Lord, not to himself, or to the gifted artisans who made it and crafted it into a magnificent structure.

Solomon wants God to get the glory for this temple. So, Solomon recounts a few attributes of God;

There is no other god like the One True God, anywhere

God keeps his covenant with his people

God shows steadfast love to his servants

God is the central character here, not man.

Dear Friend, meditate on these attributes. Let them sink in to your soul. God uses His attributes for your favor.

You and I might create other man-made gods, but they are false and empty and meaningless and lead you nowhere, and they always, always, always disappoint you. But not God, He never disappoints because His is the One True God of the universe, who is everywhere, all the time, He knows all things, sees all things, and is sovereignly in control of all things.

God also keeps his covenant of love and faithfulness toward you. Oh, you’ve definitely broken your side of the covenant. You have not kept up your end of the deal. You have sinned against God over and over and over again. There’s not a day that goes by that you haven’t broken covenant with God. Nonetheless, God keeps His side of the covenant and he has also kept our side of it too! God demands perfect obedience from us. And we can never live up to perfect obedience. But there is One who could. Jesus, the author and PERFECTOR of our faith. Jesus lived the perfect life we could never live. So yes, God certainly keeps his covenant with us and has sent Jesus to keep our side of the Covenant for us.

And then Solomon goes on to express that God’s love is steadfast, it never stops, it keeps going. Even in the midst of our failures God keeps on loving us. That is amazing! You just don’t see this type of love in human relationships.

To be perfectly clear, this passage showcases the glory of God in his attributes FIRST and then it encourages us and calls us to walk before the Lord with ALL our heart. God wants us to see his UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and be motivated out of that love to walk in his ways, to live out his law, and to walk through life giving it everything we’ve got.

DUTY OR DELIGHT?

God wants us to obey him and walk with Him, not out of duty but out of delight. God wants us to take a bath in his steadfast love, feel the cleansing power of Christ and then go out into the world around us and love others like He has loved us.

My prayer for you today is that you would look at who God is and THEN live out what He has called you to do.

May God give you the strength, ability and power to walk before Him through the Holy Spirit living in you.

So today, right now, go out and walk before the Lord with all your heart. Give it everything you’ve got today, don’t hold back grace from anyone, God’s not holding it back from you. Don’t put conditions on anyone today, God’s not putting conditions on you. Treat others as Christ has treated you. You have nothing to lose by loving people this way.

Take care my friends and have a great day enjoying God!

Fletch

 

Devotional Ideas for the New Year

Several folks have asked for devotional ideas for this year. I love these getting these questions!

bible-study1

Here are some top choices for spending time with the Lord:

  1. Just Read your Bible. Start with a particular book and read a chapter or passage each day. Ask yourself three question:
    • What does this passage tell me about who God is?
    • What does this passage tell me about who I am?
    • What is this passage calling me to do by the power of Christ living in me?
  1. Tim Keller has a new devotional: The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms. Each day has a Scripture to read, an encouraging word and a prayer to pray.
  2. Ken Boa has written several devotional books over the years and you can find them at www.kenboa.org The one that I have used regularly for over 20 years is called Handbook to Prayer. It’s a daily prayer guide that only uses Scripture, no commentary. I absolutely love it. These books come in leather which makes them a little pricey, but well worth the money.
  3. Scotty Smith’s Everyday Prayers is Andrew’s favorite and he has been leading our staff times with it. Highly recommended.
  4. Valley of Vision, a compilation of Puritan prayers. We use these prayers in corporate worship at times.
  5. Paul Tripp’s New Morning Mercies was my top choice for 2016, so if you didn’t get it yet, then definitely order it, immediately. Gospel centeredness every day, it is awesome. I’m doing it again, especially since I know that I didn’t actually read it every single day this past year.
  6. Heath’s top pick is Voices from the Past, Puritan Devotional Readings.
  7. You probably know that John Piper is one of my favorite authors/pastors/theologians. Piper has written numerous devotionals. The Godward Life is exceptional and I highly recommend it. You can also download his app called Solid Joys, which is a daily devotional on your phone. I have really benefited from this one as well.

I could go on and on, but we need to leave some information for another blog post. Bottom line is to encourage you to read your Bibles daily, spend some time praying and believing that the gospel changes everything!

What is YOUR favorite devotional?

All for Jesus,

Fletch

A Growing Follower of Christ Believes in the Gospel

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 says,

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”

The gospel is the good news that Jesus has come to save us from ourselves for Himself.  Apart from Christ we face Read more

Don’t Miss it!

In 1 Chronicles 16, King David brings the Ark of the Covenantmountainsclouds back to Jerusalem. If you remember, during the time of King Saul the Ark had been stolen and misused. But King David recaptures the Ark and brings it back to Jerusalem and plans a huge worship service. 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 recount the songs of praise and prayers during the worship service.

In verses 25-29 the attributes of God are magnified. As you read (pray) through these verses look for specific attributes of God. I think too often we miss looking at the Scriptures this way. We can get caught up in the narrative and miss seeing who God really is and how we should worship Him. These attributes have an impact on our daily lives. Here are a few that I found.

25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be feared above all gods.
26 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place.

28 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;  (1 Chronicles 16:25-29)

great, above all gods, maker of the heavens, majestic, strong, joyful, glorious, holy, beautiful, eternal, compassionate, humble, a reviver of spirits and hearts

And if you keep reading (praying) to the end of the worship service (v.35-36) you will see that it ultimately points us to Jesus, who is our salvation. God alone is worthy of our worship and praise. It is good to get to know His attributes and His characteristics because this creates more intimacy in our relationship with Him. It also strengthens and encourages our faith in the One whom He sent to die for us, be raised from the dead and is now seated at His right hand, ruling over all creation.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

God at the Center, Not Me

“In the beginning God…”selfish3

These are the first four words of the Bible in Genesis 1. These first four words remind us who the entire Bible is about. They remind who all of life is about, and its not about me, or you. God is the center of the universe and it is God who is the reason for everything that is in existence. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this truth each day in order to be more focused on glorifying God and not ourselves.

These are the first four words of the Bible in Genesis 1. These first four words remind us who the entire Bible is about. They remind who all of life is about, and its not about me, or you. God is the center of the universe and it is God who is the reason for everything that is in existence. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this truth each day in order to be more focused on glorifying God and not ourselves.

As you think about this particular day, ask the Lord to keep you from being so self-focused on your own pleasure. Instead, ask Him to keep you focused on who He has called you to be. So that the people you interact with, the relationships that are growing and developing in your life will not be about Read more

Safe and Secure

This God—his way is perfect; mountain-path-1119909_960_720
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?

Psalm 18:30-31

To follow God is a way that will always be best. It may not be the easiest or the safest way, but it is always the best way. “For your way is perfect…” You just can’t go wrong if you choose the path that God leads you down.

To live according to God’s Word has proven to be Read more

Two Critical Things a Christian must do

The famous football coach Vince Lombardi blockandtacklebelieved that if his team could learn two things they would win football games. Just two things were the key to winning games? What about a thick and complex playbook? Don’t you need the fastest running backs and the most agile quarterbacks? Well, according to Vince Lombardi all you need to learn and execute are two things: blocking and tackling. If he could get his players to do those two things better than anyone else then they would win football games.

The Christian life points us in this direction as well. Not that we need to learn how to block and tackle, but there are two basic skills that are so foundational to life that we will be at a great loss if we don’t learn them. There are two things that Read more

The Gospel Provides Rest

The gospel provides rest from all of our burdens, anxieties and fears because the gospel is founded upon the character of God. This is the God, the great I AM, the sustainer of all things, ruler over the entire universe and everything else.“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

The gospel says that God is taking what is broken beyond our ability to fix and fixing it; the gospel is God taking our sinfully dead hearts and bringing them back to life through the life, death, resurrection and reign of Christ. Read more

4 Simple Things to do during your Devotional Time

1. Read your Bible.spurgeon bible

This sounds basic but many people read a devotional written by someone else. There might be a verse or passage in the beginning or end of the devotional but the bulk of the material comes from the author. Now there is nothing wrong with reading devotionals written by human authors. Two of my favorites are Paul Tripp and John Piper. However, nothing is better than just reading a passage out of your own Bible. I’m sure these two authors would encourage you to read more the Word than their own words.

2. Study for Yourself.

Pouring over the Scriptures yourself is life giving. Some people are literally afraid to read the Bible because they might not understand it all. God has written the Bible in such a way that anyone can understand its basic meaning. The Scriptures contain God’s grace to you, and you do not want to miss out on receiving it.

3. Listen to God.

I’ve never heard God speak in an audible voice to me but He has given me his Word, the Bible. God wants to speak to you and His best medium is through the Bible. When you prayerfully go through the Scriptures you will begin to experience and hear God speaking truth into your life, He will speak comforting words to your hurting heart and He will give you wisdom to make difficult decisions.

4. Pray.

The Lord wants to hear from you as well. Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart to God. All your thoughts, emotions, struggles, hardships, joys, pains, thanksgivings and praise. God wants to hear it all. I love praying the Scriptures back to God for myself and for others. To keep me focused while I pray I write in a journal.