God is My Strength

humilityGod is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze (2 Samuel 22:33-35).

God was David’s strength and power. He accounted every victory in his life to the Lord who even taught his hands to make war. Yes, David used weapons and strategies and soldiers against the enemies of his people, but these were not the source of a single victory. A nation can have every weapon known to man and still lose a war! That was the experience of the United States in Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan. David’s victories were only because God brought defeat to Israel’s enemies.

All too often we fail to give God the credit for what He does in and through us. We are living wells of ever-bubbling pride, but it’s toward the humble that God condescends and gives strength in the midst of every trial.

David never forgot from where his every blessing flowed. He was aware of the One who stooped to fit and enable him for every service.

His Mercies are Great

substituteAll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

Second Samuel 24 tells the story of when King David sinned and God gave him a choice of how he would be judged: seven years of famine for the land, three months of military defeat, or three days of plague upon Israel.

The choice put David in great distress (2 Samuel 24:14), but He put Himself in the hand of God whose mercies are great. He knew that God was both just and gracious. God sent a plague that killed 70,000 Israelites.

Some are appalled that God would kill 70,000 people for the sin of their leader; that one would bear the judgment for another. But consider that we pay for the sins of others each day, whether it’s the child hit by a drunk driver or the policeman killed by an angry protester. We must remember that none of us is “innocent” before God. We all have earned the wages for our sin (Romans 6:23) and how God pays those wages of death is up to Him.

At the cross, Jesus bore the sins of the world. He took upon Himself God’s judgment for your sins. The truly innocent Christ died in your place, for your sins, so you could live eternally.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). 

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

The Leopard’s Spots

 

 

 

 

This is a poster printed in the year 1898. It reads:

The Brutal Driver

Many horsemen are so lacking in the sense of humanity that they take delight in pursuing and running down cyclists on the public road. By the efforts of the L.A.W. many of these brutes have been arrested and punished, and this salutary work will be carried on in the future more vigorously than ever.

Despite the advancements in education, medicine, technology, and general civilization, the nature of man doesn’t change. It reminds us of the Scripture:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23).

Apart from the transforming work of Jesus Christ in the heart of man, we are no more able to do the good that honors God than the leopard can change its spots.

The Day I Wet My Pants

blushing boy

I was a shy boy and it was my third school that year. Mrs Rogers was a kindly old lady with orange-red hair and glasses who taught the second grade.

Each day, when we finished eating our lunches, we had to pass through Mrs Rogers’ inspection. Before dismissing us for recess, she’d shake our paper milk cartons to make sure we hadn’t tried to hide our peas or some other icky vegetable.

That fateful day I finished lunch and stood in the line at Mrs Roger’s desk. I got to her desk, she looked over my tray, shook my milk carton and then asked me, “Richard, do you need to use the restroom?” This shy 7-year old kid nodded his head but it was too late. Standing there holding my lunch tray, with a line of kids behind me, I wet my pants.

My only buddy, Leroy, was standing behind me and asked Mrs Rogers what the liquid all over the floor was. This discreet and wonderful teacher said simply, “Richard spilled something,” and walked me to the school office so I could call home for a clean pair of pants.

Mrs Rogers could have scolded the new kid in front of my classmates. She could have said something to Leroy so I wouldn’t have wanted to return the next day. She might have done something to belittle me. Instead, she kindly protected me and my dignity.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

Saved by Love

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

The preacher’s message was brimmed with sentimentality as he talked about his visit to a dog shelter. As he and his little girl peered into each kennel, they were overcome by the number of dogs waiting to either be adopted or euthanized. His daughter petted and called to each animal one-by-one. Crying, she begged her father to be allowed to take them all home. Just as tearfully the pastor explained that it was only possible to save one of her furry friends.

As he reached the conclusion of his sermon, there was nary a dry eye in the congregation. Reaching the height of hopey-changey theology, he quoted John 3:16. He reminded us of how his love for his daughter and compassion for the dogs moved him. He could only save one dog, but God’s love reached down out of Heaven to save everyone present.

Asking for every head to be bowed, he invited all those who wanted to know God’s love to raise their hand. Several raised their hands, and after repeating a prayer, the congregation applauded these new Christians.

But the Bible doesn’t say that God saves anyone by His love. John 3:16 says that God so loved that He sent His Son. His love sent Jesus; His love doesn’t save.

The salvation offered by God in Jesus has only ever been realized in one way: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

John 3:16 describes God’s motivation for sending His Son; it was the death of Jesus as your Substitute that saves.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

innocent-until-proven-guiltyThe American judicial system deems every accused person “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.” Everyone accused of a crime is automatically declared innocent of every accusation until the government proves otherwise. You do not have to prove your innocence.

The Bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Are you guilty of sin? or has God falsely condemned you?

Jesus set the standard of righteousness very high. He said, You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Are you perfectly sinless like God the Father?

Jesus gave a few examples of such perfection. He mentioned murder and explained that murder is not just an act of violently taking the life of another person; murder includes the thought and intention of being angry with his brother (Matthew 5:22). Ever been angry toward someone? You’re guilty of murder.

How about adultery? Again, Jesus said that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).

Sin dives far deeper into you than your outward actions. Sin includes your thoughts, motives, and intentions. For example, if you have considered taking something that doesn’t belong to you, you are guilty of stealing.

Jesus also said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Do you love God with all of your being? Does He come first in every decision and choice? Is pleasing Him your only goal in life with never a hint of selfishness?

The Bible not only declares that you are guilty of sin as charged, but also declares your sentence: The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

In His mercy and grace, God also provides this great hope: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Jesus died in your place. He took your sin and guilt upon Himself as your Substitute before God. Trust Him as your only Lord and Saviour.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

A Bible Revolution

lutherMartin Luther was faced with a decision to remain quiet or speak out. The religious corruption he witnessed was unbearable. Bishops sold places in Heaven to the highest bidder. The pope promised early release from Purgatory for donations to build his palace. Priests were impregnanting nuns and aborting the babies. The pope claimed to be the only authority for Christians.

Luther began by writing a letter to his bishop, explaining 95 Biblical reasons the pope was wrong to sell salvation. Then on October 31, 1517, filled with anger, he stormed to his church and nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the doors which served as the community bulletin board. Soon his complaint reached Rome.

For hundreds of years the pope was considered the final authority in all things Christian. His words were more authoritative than the Bible. Suddenly a Bible teacher in a small German village was questioning the status quo.

At that time, Luther was preaching a Bible-based sermon every 2 1/2 days. He also wrote a booklet on a Bible subject every other day for at least 4 years.

Tensions between the pope and Luther grew. The pope threatened the German emperor to get Luther or else. He even told his aides that if Luther “accidentally” died, it would solve many problems.

In hiding, Luther translated the Bible into German, which had only been in Latin for over a thousand years. He believed the German people should be able to compare what they were being taught in church with what God said in the Bible.

The final 13 years of his life, Luther suffered from vertigo, fainting, tinnitus, cataracts, kidney and bladder stones, arthritis, angina, and deafness, but he kept writing and preaching the Word of God.

On the evening of February 17, 1546, at the age of 56, Luther experienced chest pain and hours later died. Any thought that his death would end his Bible revolution was quickly proven wrong. He had founded a movement stressing the authority of the Scriptures above every man, experience, and idea.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

What About Sin?

what-about-sinAnd you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).

Everyone has a belief about their own sin. There are three possibilities:

(1) sin doesn’t exist and you are spiritually well.  If sin doesn’t exist and you are spiritually well, there is no need for repentance, forgiveness, salvation, or a Saviour. If there is a God, your status with Him is a-okay.

(2) sin is only a mistake and you are only spiritually weak or sick. Your situation isn’t hopeless. You just need to use your will-power, exercise faith, make better choices, and work harder to be good.

(3) sin means you are spiritually dead. Dead people have no free-will and dead people can’t choose to be saved. As a spiritually dead person, you are fully unable to do anything to make yourself spiritually alive. Salvation is wholly a work of God by grace.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God (John 1:12-13).

So, what do you say about sin?

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

Everything Within Me

When my heart is overwhelmed with care,
and I cannot seem to bear it any more,
I will lay it at Your feet in prayer;
I’ll let everything within me praise You Lord.

Everything within me praise the Lord!
With my heart and soul and voice I’ll thank You Lord.
I will worship You and sing and I’ll adore;
I’ll let everything within me praise You Lord.

Be Ye Perfect

be-ye-perfectI remember as a child watching another child at the 1976 Olympics. The world and I watched as 14-year old Nadia Comaneci finished her routine on the gymnastic uneven bars, her dismount bringing wild cheers from the crowd.

Since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, no one ever expected a perfect gymnastic routine. Score boards were built to only go as high as 9.9. Nadia became the first athlete to receive a perfect score of 10 from the international judges.

Spiritually, only God sets the standard of perfection. He alone judges whether His standard is ever met. The standard goes like this: Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), yet the reality is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, meeting God’s standard became impossible … until Jesus. When He was born, the world encountered the first and only perfect Person. He lived a perfect life socially, morally, religiously, and spiritually. He kept every standard of man and God, never sinning and never falling short of the glory of God (Hebrews 4:15).

He gave His perfect life on the cross as the Substitute for sinful man. All who trust in Him receive His perfect righteousness applied to their lives. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

You can’t ever be perfect, but you can respond to God’s gift of salvation. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).