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.

Becoming A Slave

During my first trip to Ghana, West Africa in the summer of 2007, I had the opportunity to visit Elmina Castle. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Slaves were held captive in the castle before exiting through the castle’s infamous “Door of No Return” to be transported and resold in newly colonized Brazil and other Portuguese colonies.

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During the tour of the castle, our tour guide mentioned in passing the three ways a person became a slave:

  1. Crimes committed
  2. Debt that could not be paid
  3. Born into it

We fit all three conditions of slavery to sin.

  1. We have committed crimes. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
  2. We all have a debt that we cannot pay. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
  3. We were all born into sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

We are all slaves to sin and unrighteousness. But this was not God’s plan for us. He desires for us to enjoy the pleasure of freedom. He will set us free by taking us captive in His mercy.

We have committed crimes. But He cleared our record.

“Blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us… and took it our of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Col. 2:14).

We all have a debt that we cannot pay. But He paid it for us.

“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

We were all born into sin. But we can be born again.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Once I was “free” in shackles of sin:
Free to be tempted, bound to give in;
Free to be captive to any desire;
Free to eternally burn in hell fire.
But Jesus bought me, now I’m a “slave,”
Bound by commands, free to obey;
Captive by beauty, free to adore,
Sentenced to sit at His feet evermore!
-Unknown 

Esau’s Trade

Hunger gnaws at Esau, pain eating him from the inside out. He can’t remember ever being this hungry. He staggers, exhausted, into the room where his brother, Jacob, is preparing a warm meal.

“I’m starving! Give me some of that red stew.”

“Sure,” Jacob replied, “but first you will have to trade me your rights as the firstborn son.”

Caught up in the heat of the moment, seeking only to satisfy the immediate needs of his flesh, Esau concedes. “I’m dying of starvation! What good is my birthright now?”

Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.

I know what you are thinking. That is stupid. You would never do something like that, not for a meal. After all, how can you compare a bowl of soup to life’s pleasures, trials, and cares that people currently take in place of salvation. Certainly Esau’s trade is MUCH sillier than anything people trade today.

As long as we are making comparisons, I ask you to consider: How can you compare an earthly inheritance with a heavenly inheritance? An earthly inheritance, as great as it could be, is still just a bowl of soup compared to all that the Lord has for His children!

Anything you could take in place of your inheritance is like a bowl of beans in comparison!

Don’t make Esau’s trade. Treasure your inheritance.

In Which Camp Are You Living?

Studies in First Corinthians – XXVI

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

“It’s good to be alive!” This phrase usually expresses the joy of a moment, some fleeting experience. But what does it really mean to be alive in the spiritual and eternal sense of the word? Paul writes of the real significance of life in Christ.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (15:21-22).

Paul points to two camps: in Adam, in Christ. Everyone who has ever lived has chosen to live in one or the other. There is no neutral ground. We are all born into Adam’s camp and most live and die there. However, we can be implanted by the miracle of the second birth into the camp of Christ.

“As in Adam all die.” Adam had been warned that rejection of God’s authority would mean loss of life. But he took the reins in his own hands, defied God’s authority, and promptly died. He didn’t die a physical death at that moment but he died a death much more to be feared. His relationship with God was cut off immediately. The mark of death grew on him in every way.

So begins the story of the tragic breakdown of human life at every level when out of proper relationship with God. Each of us, by the law of heredity, has become involved in this tragedy. As Paul put it, “by the disobedience of one the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:15).

The marks of death are upon each of us today: the stains of sin, of hatred, of all the decaying fruit of the self-life. Unless we move out of the camp in which we were born and into the camp in which we are born again, we will continue in the rebellion, not only in life but in eternity.

“So in Christ shall all be made alive.” Here is the counterattack of heaven. Man, made in the image of God, has chosen the devil as his master and become like him. Now God is made like man in order to rescue him from the rule of Satan. He has come to restore the character of God in man.

It was not necessary. Justice would have been completely satisfied if the entire human race had perished forever. But God is not only just, He is loving! And His love seeks and saves the lost.

The kingdom of death was invaded by a Man who’s life knew no sin. He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin. So as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). He has removed the mark of death and set in its place the mark of life.

In which camp are you living?

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?

If the Sun is Still Shining…

You know that you should feel something and you wish that you could cry, but the tears stopped coming a long time ago. You are left with the emptiness of guilt, shame, and remorse that is the result of a struggle with sin. As you attempt to stand from your latest fall, you can’t help but wonder, “How can something so empty be so heavy?” Maybe you have sinned too much, gone too far, fallen too low, or just made an unforgivable mistake. “How could God love me?” you wonder, “Will He really forgive me?”

Let me tell you how you can find an answer to this question. Ask yourself, “Is the sun still shining?” If the answer is “yes,” then the answer is “YES!”

Photo by Denis Collette...!!!


Isaiah 31:35-37 (NLT) “It is the LORD who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, and this what he says: “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” This is what the LORD says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the LORD, have spoken!

This Scripture is even more amazing when you consider its context. It is surrounded by warnings from God through the Prophet Jeremiah that judgment and punishment is coming. God repeatedly warns His people that Babylon’s army is coming and their only options are to surrender and accept the punishment from the LORD or die.

These three verses shine a ray of hope onto a set of dark circumstances. In no way do they make light of sin, for the justified punishment from God will still come. But these verses are a reminder that any punishment and any consequences of sin we face before that final judgment are not for our destruction. Rather, if we submit to the correction of God, it will always bring us back into proper relationship with Him.

So you may be wondering if God will forgive you again. Ask yourself, “Is the sun still shining?”