Never the Less

In Psalm 106 the psalmist lists all of the many failures of the children of Israel from Egypt to Cannan. Despite all that He was doing for them, they piled up sin, failure, and complaints against God. Many times God delivered them, but they always seemed to find a way to sin.

But then comes v44-45. 

Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: and he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.

I am glad to know that His mercy is never the less. It is always the more. Never less than my sin and failures. Always more.

Book Review: Relentless by John Bevere

I recently finished Relentless by John Bevere. I have always enjoyed the author’s writing style and why I don’t always agree with his theology, I deeply appreciate his defense of Scripture and desire to communicate the truths of God’s Word.

relentless

This book is really about the empowerment of God’s grace. We tend to think of grace only in relation to our sin but grace is meant for so much more. Grace is not only the power to overcome sin but it is the power to live an overcoming life as a warrior for the Kingdom of God.

One of the highlights of the book is the chapter on humility. We often think of pride as the opposite of humility but as the author points out, Habakkuk 2:4 portrays pride and faith as opposites. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by faith.” This should show us how God links faith and humility. Some hide their pride and disbelief behind a shadow false humility.

A perfect example is the ten spies of the promised land. “If the ten spies had humbly relied on God’s promises, they would have moved out and conquered the land. They would have submitted to the Word of the Lord rather than their limited strength and human reasoning, and they they would have been submitted to one another – under the same mission.”

True humility is absolute obedience and dependance on God.

For me, the whole book was worth these few paragraphs at the end.

Sadly, I have witnessed our spiritual (scriptural) foundations shifting to accommodate the trends of the times. It’s gotten so out of control that minister of a large church can stand before his congregation, declare he’s a homosexual, and receive a standing ovation. Another can declare it’s no longer God’s will to heal, and his people believe him instead of God’s Word. Another can author a book declaring that all humanity is going to eventually enter heaven – that no person will burn in eternal fire – and he remains a ‘rock star’ in Christendom. Another can challenge the virgin birth and the return of Jesus Christ and still be celebrated as a leader of the Christian faith. More and more sad scenarios such as these play our among “Christians” each day.

Some recent surveys may help us understand these ludicrous shifts. According to one national survey, only 46 percent of ‘born-again Christians’ believe in absolute moral truth. More than 50 percent of ‘evangelical Christians” believe people can attain heaven through avenues other than the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Only 40 percent of ‘born-again Christians’ believe Satan is a real force. How can this be? The answer is found in Paul’s words to Timothy: “They will not endure sound doctrine” – we are not remaining relentless in truth.

More and more we are hearing and declaring a non transformational gospel. Its core message is unfaithful to the core doctrine of God’s Word, as in “Jesus died for our sins to get us to heaven, but we are human, and God understands our different vices and sexual preferences.” A popular teaching of late in the removal of the need for repentance from sin. Multitudes of believers are gleefully told that there’s no need to embrace godly sorrow over disobedience or to confess it to God because sin has already been covered by grace. I’ve heard men and women who embrace this teach boast of how simple, fresh, and liberating the message is. But if simple, fresh, and liberating war the real indicators of truth, then any doctrine that gratifies the flesh would be truth! If it’s an accurate teaching that Christians no longer need to repent, then Jesus Christ was way off base when he told five of the seven churches to “repent” in the book of Revelation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from bloggingforbooks.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Extraordinary

In Extraordinary, John Bevere unpacks the truths from God’s Word which show God’s desire for His children to live an abundant life. We are not called to the “status quo.” John shows us exactly what it takes to move beyond an ordinary existence and to take hold of an extraordinary life. Prepare to be challenged and changed if you read this book!

If you have ever asked the question, “Is it possible to live a life free from sin?” this book is for you. If you find yourself constantly battling the same sinful habits, this book is for you. If you want to live life in the power that God has given and not through your own effort and ability, this book is for you. If you are looking to live a life fully immersed in the extraordinary, then this book is for you.

The truth is, as John points out, “many of us have been taught that grace is an unmerited gift and by it we were given eternal life in heaven. However, what’s been neglected in many evangelical circles is the understanding of how grace provides the power to live – extraordinarily – a successful life that pleases God before eternity.”

How is this possible? Grace. “Grace gives us the ability to exceed our own ability. It gives us the ability to live extraordinarily!” In fact, God’s expectations of those filled with His Spirit are greater than His expectations were of those who lived under the law because of His empowering grace.

Where does this grace come from? Faith. “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). “Faith deeply believes God will do what He says, and it subsequently produces (both) words of agreement and actions of obedience.” Genuine faith speaks and acts on what it believes. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith and grace, we live in the ordinary, not the extraordinary.”

How do we have access to this faith through which we receive grace? The Holy Spirit. “We resist carnality through the power imparted by the Holy Spirit into our spirit.” Even our mortal bodies are restored to (overcoming) life by the power of the His Spirit dwelling in us (Romans 8:10-11).

Live in the power of the Holy Spirit; live Extraordinarily!

Get Back To Your Burdens

“Get back to your burdens!” was Pharaoh’s angry response to the request of Moses and Aaron to let their people go (Exodus 5:4). The enemy of our soul responds in kind to the sinner saved by grace.

Photo by Timothy C.

“Get back to your burdens!” It is the threatening command of our old taskmaster heard after a sinful mistake. He hopes to convince us that we will always be subject to his every command.

“Get back to your burdens!” It is the whip he cracks to keep his slaves in place. It is the demand that causes us to cower in fear unless we know Grace.

Grace that says, “Come to me, ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” It is the call of the Jesus to every one who knows the sharp sting of sin’s cruel whip. “I’ll take your burdens and give you mine.”

“Get back to your burdens!” It is the threatening demand of that which no longer possess you.

Your burdens were rolled onto your Savior at Calvary’s cross. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Don’t pick up what you laid down. Get back to His burdens.

Isn’t Grace Amazing?

I often hear sentiments from Christians expressing their thankfulness that they do not live under the law but under grace. Such sentiments are often accompanied by the false assumption that God’s expectations of man are more lenient under grace than they were under the rigid rule of the law. However, the opposite is true. His expectations are higher for those of us who live in the age of grace.

In Matthew 5, Jesus contrasts life under the law to life under grace with six examples. “You have heard it said… But I say to you…” He quotes the requirements of the law and then introduces His way under grace. The former concerns restraint while the later a transformation.

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not murder.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment.”

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

“You have heard it said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a bill of divorcement.’ But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife except for fornication, causes her to commit adultery.”

I think you get the idea.

Grace doesn’t require less from us than the law. Grace empowers us to overcome. Grace is not an excuse to sin. Grace is the gift of God to mankind that we may conquer sin through the power of His Spirit.

Isn’t grace amazing?

Even Here?

I have been thinking a lot about the Grace of God recently.  I am simply amazed by the places in my life that God’s Grace reaches into and changes.  I am learning more and more that I could do nothing were it not for God’s Grace.  His Grace leads me to repentance.  His Grace helps me to be obedient.  His Grace gives me victory.

I certainly don’t want to make light of sin.  I don’t adhere to a doctrine that teaches we can live however we want and do whatever feels good because God’s Grace will cover it all.  In fact, that is an extremely perverted grace.  It robs from the true meaning of Grace.  No, Grace should lead us to righteousness.  Grace gives us the desire to be obedient and pleasing to the One who gave the gift of Grace.

I do, however, believe that there is no place that Grace can’t reach you.  If you are breathing and Jesus hasn’t taken His Church out of this world, there is still hope.  If you are worried that you have fallen too far or sinned too much, the very fact that you are concerned is proof enough for me that you aren’t out of the reach of God’s Grace.  There are only two things that can come between you and Grace; (1) your will (you don’t desire grace/don’t think you need it) and (2) the lies of the enemy.

Many of you have probably heard this often repeated verse about sin:

Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.
Make you pay more than you ever wanted to pay.
And keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.

Certainly, this is true on all accounts.  But I would like to add one line to this; someone may need to hear it.

Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go.
Make you pay more than you ever wanted to pay.
And keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.
And Grace can reach you there!

Yes, Even There!

This Hurts Him More Than It Hurts You

My Bible (ESV Study) has headings, or titles, throughout the text.  Leviticus 26 has two headings; Blessings for Obedience and Punishment for Disobedience.  I found myself reading the section titled “Punishment for Disobedience” with much anticipation.  It goes something like this…

“But if you will not listen to me…I will set my face against you.” (Plus lots of other unpleasant punishments)
“Then if you [still] walk contrary to me…I will continue striking you.” (And other unpleasant punishments)
“If by this discipline you are not turned to me…I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.” (And other unpleasant punishments)
“But if in spite of this you will not listen to me…I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins.” (And, yes, other unpleasant punishments)

It may seem strange to you, and it did to me, that each time the Lord punished Israel for their sin I felt extremely relieved.  Relieved?  Yes, relieved.  I wondered why I felt so relieved.  The reason came to me.  I was relieved because each time I read the words, “If you continue to sin,” I was fully expecting to read that God was going to take His presence away.  And I realized in that moment how merciful God was being even in these harsh punishments.

You see, there is something far worse than the punishment and correction of God.  What if He left?  What if He gave up on you?

If we have heard it once, we have heard it a thousand times, God punishes those whom He loves.  But this passage (and my expectations) revealed to me just how merciful God is when He punishes us instead of leaving us.

It will not always be the case.  There will be a separating, a judgement, but until that day every punishment from the hand of God is an act of mercy trying to guide you back to proper relationship and obedience to Him.

And yes, it hurts Him more than hurts you.

Oh, How He Loves Us!

P.S.  When I ran spell check on this, it asked me if I meant “presents” rather than “presence” when I said that I was expecting God was going to take His presence away.  No, that is not what I meant.  My version is a much more terrifying prospect…for some.