Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

Will You Choose Life?

Care Net logoI had the opportunity last evening to participate in the CareNet banquet for CareNet of Warren County NJ. During the evening we heard moving testimonies from women who struggled with an unwanted pregnancy. They shared how they felt fearful and confused. They shared how they were afraid to tell their families. However, as a Pastor, what I found particularly disheartening, is that they believed that their church would not be a place of support and help. In one woman’s case, she felt ostracized by her church. Is her sin any greater than others in that congregation? Where is the grace and mercy that is found in the gospel of Christ?

To be sure, I do not know all the details of their interaction with their church leaders. However, it got me thinking about my own family and my church. We do not want to minimize sin. God hates sin. We have no right to lessen what God hates. However, God is also full of grace and mercy. We have been granted amazing grace, a marvelous, matchless, and infinite grace. Should we not as pastor communicate the law to convict and the gospel to convert, comfort and change? I wonder how people would see me and my family and my church? Would they see me as a person who overflows with the gospel of grace?

MarcNewmanPortraitLast evening, we also heard from Dr. Marc Newman. He is the president of Speaker For Life, a training firm dedicated to equipping pro-life advocates nationwide with public speaking skills. He has spoken at nearly every major pro-life convention in the nation and is in demand as a banquet keynoter. He is the former Director of Speech and Debate at the University of California at Irvine and recently retired from teaching in the doctoral program in the School of Communication and the Arts at Regent University. He is a founding faculty member of the new Applied Bioethics program at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He has trained speakers in public and private sectors for over twenty-five years. In addition to teaching, he heads MovieBibleStudy.com – a site that helps Christians use movies to reach out to others. He has appeared on Fox News and in Time magazine. He lives in North San Diego County in California with his wife, Sharon, and their youngest son, Joel.

Newman spoke on three key issues

  1. Knowledge
  2. Ability
  3. Willingness

Christ has come to give life and life abundantly. Do you have that life? Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Have you done something in your past that you believe can never be forgiven? Perhaps you are a burdened with fear, shame, despair, guilt over your choices. The gospel of Christ is the only hope for forgiveness and freedom for broken humanity. In the gospel, we find that we are loved, accepted, forgiven because of the person and the work of Christ. Will you trust Him today?

For many of us who are in Christ, are you also living under the burden of shame, fear, and guilt? Have you heard the gospel and trust Christ for your salvation but still believe you are condemned? Paul, in Romans 8, said that there is now, no condemnation for all who are in Christ. Added to that, he ends the chapter by saying there is no separation from the love of God in Christ for children of God. I encourage you to stand under the waterfall of God’s grace and mercy. Be saturated in His word of steadfast loving-kindness and His peace.

I encourage you to find a local Care Net resources center in your area and find ways to help. We can always pray. Many of you could give time or treasures to aid in the ministry. Will you consider how God may want to use you to help?

Blessings.

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I am a Great Sinner. He is a Great Savior

Judah and TamarIt would be very easy to get caught up in the corrupt nature of Genesis 38. The story of Judah and Tamar is one of the most sordid chapters in all the Bible. One pastor said there is nothing lovely about this chapter. He said we should turn away from the stench of this chapter. Another theologian said that this chapter is entirely unsuited for preaching.

I hope when we get to the end of our message we will see that they are both wrong. What I believe we will discover, by the end of this chapter, is the gospel. The gospel exposes our deepest problem and points us to the only remedy. Our unholiness and our ungodliness is the most profound struggle that we have. We are unclean, contaminated by sin, unfit to stand, in and of ourselves, before the throne of God who defines holiness. Before God, we have no excuses. We have no alibi. The reality is clear. God is holy. We are sinful. God must, and will, punish sin. How are we ever to be made right before God?

In this message, we see Judah’s descent into sin and his deliverance by the Savior.

Click the following link to listen to a message from Genesis 38:1-30 http://thechapelnj.sermon.net/main/main/20864405.

Blessings

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Living in Grace…

Livingingrace

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Amazed by Grace

Do you struggle with anger? Perhaps you would not say that you struggle with anger, but do you struggle with:

  • Apathy
  • Bitterness
  • Complaining
  • Criticalness
  • Cursing
  • Cynicism
  • Defensiveness
  • Dismissiveness
  • Harshness
  • Impatience
  • Negativity
  • Slander
  • Stubbornness
  • Yelling

All of these are forms of anger, that many people struggle with, on a daily basis. Do you find that you cannot seem to break free from these troubling tendencies? Or perhaps today you are thinking, “It is not possible for God to be able to forgive me for what I have done.” The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ says that you can be forgiven and free.

Let us be amazed by the grace of our great Godlightstock_211532_xsmall_james

In this message on Psalm 103, we find out how amazing is God’s grace. This psalm speaks to 18 different blessings that God pours out upon His children. Spend some time praising God as you more and more comprehend that you can not only be forgiven from your struggle with anger, but you can also be freed from it as well.

Click the following link to listen to a message from Psalm  103:1-22  https://soundcloud.com/jameslongjr-com/amazed-by-grace-psalm-103

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Praise in the Midst of Pain

Outdoor Portrait Of Sad Young Man Covering His Face With Hands.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

– 1 Peter 1:3-5

Praise in the Midst of Pain

We are encouraged by the Apostle Peter to bless God. Blessing God means to praise or worship Him. Peter helps us focus on several reasons we should bless, praise, and worship God.

  • Because of His great mercy
  • Because He caused us to be born again 
  • Because He has given us a living hope connected to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead
  • Because He has granted us an inheritance
  • Because He keeps it secure in heaven
  • Because He keeps us secure

I do not know about you but the last thing that people are apt to do when they are going through sufferings and trials is to praise and worship God.  It sounds somewhat foolish.  Praise in the midst of pain. How ridiculous does that sound?

Apparently, it was not so ridiculous to the Apostle Peter.  Remember, Peter was the one who was praising God and preaching the gospel in spite of threats, beatings, and imprisonments (Acts 5, 12). He is also the one that was thankful that he was counted worthy to suffer for the sake of the Lord (Acts 5:41).

Perhaps even today, you can apply Peter’s principle of “praising in the midst of pain.” Remember, God is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” 2 Corinthians 1:1-3. God delights in giving you comfort and He is capable of comforting you in whatever situation you may find yourself. His comfort is limitless. His compassion is never failing.

However, that comfort comes only through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It comes by the resting in the sovereignty of God and the loving care of God. Today, may God bring you His comfort in the midst of your most difficult trials.

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Grace Precedes Peace

May grace and peace be multiplied to you – 1 Peter 1:2b

We live in a world that is constantly in search of peace. Many people fear strife, wars, and conflicts. Many people will do almost anything in their abilities to avoid these circumstances. Most of us crave harmony, calmness, quietness, and goodwill.

Some fear watching the news. Others fear hearing of wars, terrors, and disasters. The distressed situations of this world discourage, dishearten, and depress them. Therefore, to combat these, some people think that the fears will go away by ignoring them or running away from them. However, it ultimately cannot work. Suffering is a part of the human life and one cannot just ignore the world’s conflicts and think they can live a life without pain.

In addition, not only are pain and conflict in the world at large, there is pain and conflict in every human relationship. Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp, in their book, “Relationships: A Mess Worth Making,” put it this way, “Some of our deepest joys and most painful hurts have been in relationships.” As a result, when there is conflict in our relationships, most of us deeply desire to be reconciled with those we have hurt. However, most of us never consider the fact that in order to have peace, we must first either grant or receive grace. There cannot be real peace without first being grace. Grace precedes peace.

Think about it. When there is a lack of peace in a relationship, it must have begun with some form of harm or hurt done by or to another person. Some disturbance or upheaval brought about the break that has led to the loss of peace. Therefore, grace is essential to bring about harmony and peace once again in the relationship.

Grace means unmerited favor. Grace is granting someone something that they cannot earn and do not deserve. In Scripture, divine grace is the outpouring of God’s love, favor, and enablement upon the undeserving. Sin has caused a disturbance and upheaval in our relationship with God. All people are born separated from God because of sin and in need of reconciliation with Him. God, in His grace, through the atoning work of His Son, grants the believer what they need to be saved and reconciled to God, not what they can earn or merit. Divine grace is not only a saving and redeeming grace, it is also the outpouring of all the subsequent graces and spiritual blessings granted to those He has chosen. Grace is the Greek word for salutations and greeting one another.

The Hebrew word of greeting was peace. For the Jewish person, when they wished peace upon you, they desired good for you and prosperity on you. Psalm 29:11 says, “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” Psalm 122:7 says, “Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” In Acts 9:31, it says, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. So once again, the peace the psalmist desired and the peace that the early church peace were recipients of was an outpouring of God’s gracious favor on those that were His. Grace precedes peace.

Paul, in Romans 5:1 said, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Biblical peace, the peace described here, is not simply the lack of conflict but also a positive blessing. It is as if one could say, “All is well with my life.” This peace is not simply a feeling; it is a reality. There is peace with God because of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ for all of those who trust in Him.  God’s grace brings peace to all who trust in His Son.

Leighton and Thomas, in their commentary on 1 Peter, put it this way, “The flower of peace grows on the root of grace. This spiritual peace consists of two things. First, reconciliation with God, and second, tranquility of spirit.”

Do you have that grace and its resultant peace today?

Finally, Peter does not merely pray grace and peace upon God’s people. He desires them to have it in abundance, to be “multiplied to you.” He wanted them to have every good thing that God could offer them. Grace upon grace. Peace upon peace. To the fullest measure possible.

Peter wanted that for his readers, God’s people who were living in a hostile world. The same is true for us 2000 years later. God’s grace and peace is our only hope. It gives us stability in the greatest storms of life. It assures us that under the sovereign hand of God nothing can touch us that He has not planned for our lives. In addition, even though the circumstances may be very painful and difficult they cannot surpass His grace. His grace is enough. It is sufficient to deal with any and all difficulties that we will encounter in this life.

Do you live in that grace? Do you have that peace today? Life is pain and often very difficult. However, Jesus Christ can offer you the full outpouring of God’s favor and enablement to you today. Will you turn to Him?

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