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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

 

What if I’ve committed a Terrible Sin?

“Is there any hope for me if I’ve committed a terrible sin?”

Of course there is, that’s why Jesus died on the cross. The good news is that you understand that what you have done is a terrible sin against the Lord. God has made your conscience sensitive to His Law and you have responded to your conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit to seek reconciliation and forgiveness with the Lord.Head in Hands

But the question is “how is the gospel applied to my terrible sin? Or maybe, what should I do if I’ve committed a terrible sin?”

First, confess it to the Lord. Only you will be able to tell if your heart is genuinely sorry for what you’ve done. Your relationship to the Lord is the most important relationship that you have and God wants to talk to you about this terrible sin. He wants you to see exactly how terrible and heinous it is in His sight. He wants you to understand what you really deserve for sinning against a holy God. And what you deserve is to face the wrath of God, experiencing physical death and spiritual death for all eternity. Contemplating and meditating on the seriousness of this situation is healthy for your soul and it will enable you to appreciate the lengths that God has gone to in order for you to not have to face His wrath. Namely, that God the Father, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die in your place, physically and to wash you clean from all your sins, past, present and future.

Secondly, repent of your sin. This simply means to turn away from your sinful behavior and to ask the Lord to cleanse your heart from ever wanting to sin in this way again. Repentance is about turn away from sin but also turning back to the Lord. It is about making a change.

Thirdly, our repentance leads us to put our faith in Christ and His work accomplished through His life, death, resurrection and reign. We are believing that the promises of God are better than the promises of the sin we just committed. We are putting our faith into Jesus who has taken our sin upon himself and placed his righteousness upon us.

Finally, we begin to obey the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The grace that we have received from Christ’s redemptive work does not allow us to keep on sinning but rather to develop a hatred for sin and a love for obedience to God and His Word. Leviticus 20:7-8 says, “Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies.”

Live everyday in this rhythm of confession, repentance, faith and obedience. Believe with the greatest confidence that Jesus died for your most heinous and terrible sins and He does not want you to be enslaved to it any longer. Nor does Jesus want you to despair because of your sin. Jesus wants you to find hope in His gospel.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

Run to Christ

57The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;trail running
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies” Psalm 119:57-59

Every day our feet tend to wander away from the Lord and what He is calling us to. This can discourage us, demoralize us and make us feel that we are not worthy to be God’s child. However, the gospel has a different message. Christ died for our sins (past, present and future) once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to Himself (see 1 Peter 3:18).

What God wants from us is to examine our actions and the heart motivations behind them, to “think on our ways”, as the Psalmist says. Then we confess those sins to the Lord and turn away from them. But we don’t stop there. We then turn in faith to Christ, who is our savior and our sanctifier. Christ has promised to keep His Covenant with us, He will be gracious to us and He will extend His favor to us.

I want to encourage you to live in this rhythm of repentance and faith every day. Do not let yesterday’s sins discourage you. Repent of them and turn to Christ who loves you more deeply than you could ever imagine.

All for Jesus,

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 Hold Back

 

What are you waiting for? You know Christ has called you to make disciples. You know the power of the Holy Spirit living in your life. You know that you wouldn’t be where you are today unless someone invested in you and discipled you in the faith.

So what are you waiting for? You already have someone in mind who you know the Lord is leading you to. Call them, text them, email them, whatever, just contact them and ask them to start getting together. Pray that God would put a burning passion in your heart for this person and that He won’t relent until you take action and contact them.

Discipling someone is the most rewarding thing you can do with your time. So take the time, carve out one morning a week, or one lunch a week or one evening a week. Take the time to really share your life in Christ with someone. People desperately need other people to love them and show them what it means to follow Christ. God as chosen you to do this. It’s not really an option if you are a Christian. This is how God has chosen to build and grow His Kingdom, through you to influence another and help them grow in their faith and understanding of the gospel.

Don’t hold yourself back, get started today. You will never regret it.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

Gorging on God’s Word

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

This verse comes at the beginning of Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights. Jesus was probably hungry. Satan thought that tempting Jesus while He was physically weak he would be able to drag Him down. Although Jesus was physically weak and hungry (can you imagine how hungry you would be if you had fasted for forty days?), Jesus was not spiritually weak. As a matter of fact Jesus was probably more in tune spiritually at this point that if He did with a full stomach.

Jesus wants Satan to know that the physical world is not all there is to life. Yes, we do live in a physical world but the spiritual world is just as real. When we eat a meal, we taste and smell our food. Our senses tell us that the food is real. The same is true when we read the Scriptures. Our senses tell us this is real and it is nourishing to our souls. We read the Bible with our eyes, we hear it with our ears. The Bible is real. But we also have the Holy Spirit that helps us see even deeper into God’s Word what the words mean, and how they should be read and applied.

Our sustenance, the nutrition that we need to be consuming, is more than proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Our diet needs to consist of our Bibles, the very words of God. Next time you eat a meal, be reminded that the Scriptures provide just as much nutrition for energy, and for the vital processes of your body and soul to grow.

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