The Chief of Sinners

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to  believe on Him for everlasting life (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

Pastors fear to preach the message of sin. They fear to preach even more so to their own congregations, that they – even after they are born again – are sinners. They cringe at the idea, but such an understanding is not only the beginning of the gospel, but the continuation of the gospel, because without sin there is no need for a Saviour.

Child of God, do you not still need the Saviour? Have you moved beyond and become independent of the cross? Do you recoil at the suggestion that you are a still a sinner in desperate need of the Saviour? Do you suppose you’ve reached an apex of spiritual superiority and are a perfected saint who doesn’t sin, aren’t a sinner, and your life is filled only with occasional mistakes because you’re a king’s kid?

Written near the end of his earthly life, the Apostle Paul called himself at that time the chief of sinners. He knew he needed that fresh and daily reminder that his sins were forgiven by the redemption in Christ’s blood. He relied upon the continuing firm assurance that his spiritual life was only each day by the grace through faith supplied by Jesus Christ. He rejoiced in hearing the same gospel he was preaching to the lost, that the death of Jesus is forever of eternal value, meaning, and power for every sinner called by God.

The chief of sinners kept continually at the cross so that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him.

A Christian never outgrows the cross! It is where living begins!

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Fully Preventable

According to government statistics, 110 Americans die each day in car accidents. The three leading causes of traffic deaths are:

  • Distractions, like cell phones
  • Speeding
  • Substance intoxication

Each of these causes of death is completely preventable. The use of a phone is fully banned for drivers in 15 states, and 47 states ban texting while driving. Driving above the speed limit is illegal in all 50 states. Substance intoxication is against the law in all 50 states.

An eternity in Hell is also fully preventable.

The Bible says that Jesus surrendered His life on a cross, dying in the place of sinners. By trusting in Jesus alone to take your sins upon Himself, you can receive eternal life.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Resurrection from the Dead

It was Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the American Republic, who wrote, Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Death and taxes are two sure components of every human life, but there is a third: the resurrection from the dead.

In the Old Testament, a man named Job asked the question: If a man dies, shall he live again? (Job 14:14). The answer from Jesus was a resounding “YES!” Jesus said that all of the dead shall indeed live again (John 5:29).

Every human comes into this world physically alive, but at the same time is spiritually dead because of sin (Ephesians 2:1).

At the new birth, through faith in Jesus, the sinner is given spiritual life (Ephesians 2:5). Though his physical life will come to an end and his body will decompose into the dirt from which he came, there will be a physical resurrection for him (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). These resurrected physical bodies will be suited for eternity with God in the New Heaven and New Earth.

The Bible also promises a physical resurrection for the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15), whose physical bodies will be suited for eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Jesus said, The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear My voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29).

You don’t just life today for this life; you are living and making decisions that will span eternity.

Discomfort for Mr Macaroni

slow food pasta art workHeaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.”

Mr Macaroni boiled hearing Moody’s words. He’d always been something of a limp noodle, and today he was doubting his choice of employment. It had always been tough making decisions, but once made one he was left feeling deep regrets. When the clock struck 5, Macaroni was ready to get sauced.

Despite his constant indecision, Mr Macaroni was as true as a man could be. He was no impasta when it came to living, but his new job as a dental assistant was leaving him feeling a bit al dente.

He quickly exited the office on his way to the Meat Ball to dance with his sweetheart, a beautiful Italian gal named Penne. All dressed up, he straightened his little bow tie and slicked back his thick blonde angel hair with a bit of olive oil.

As he stepped from the sidewalk into the street, humming “On top of Old Smokey all covered with cheese,” Mr Macaroni was still steaming. A motorcycle with gleaming chrome twin-forks raced toward him. He never knew what hit him and instantly pasta way.

A moment later Mr Macaroni opened his eyes. Before him were the golden arches and beyond was the dazzling White Castle he’d always heard about. Macaroni was greeted by a choir of French guys singing, “Welcome to the realm of Burger King and Dairy Queen.”

A stout fellow calling himself Big Mac approached and laid a whopper of a story on him about being dead and forever living in the presence of the King. “If you’ll lettuce, tomater my friends and I will take you in-and-out through the kingdom.” It gave Mr Macaroni the shakes.

He hadn’t been at ease with people when he was alive, now an eternity with them was unbearable. He wasn’t made for a place like this. He hadn’t wanted anything to do with the king while he was alive and he didn’t want it now. He longed to have it his way and he wasn’t lovin’ it one bit. Mr Macaroni wondered, “Why did the King bring me here if I didn’t want him back when I was living?

If you don’t enjoy King Jesus today, what makes you think you’ll enjoy eternity with Him?

In My Father’s house are many mansions; it if were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:2-3).

Have You Heard of Our Water?

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16).

Last week we attended the annual Oregon State Fair in Salem. It’s always so much fun.

We enjoy looking at the dairy cows, draft horses, Asian chickens, old cars, pig races, and strangely dressed people from across our state. One fair venue houses hundreds of booths where people sell their wares, everything from hair chalk to snake jerky, bed mattresses to pickles the size of a football.

As we were wandering through the building, a young woman held out a cup of water. Have you heard of our water? It’s imported from Japan and it’s prolonging the lives of people all over the world. It’s been proven to extend your life, prevent cancer, and even cure diabetes. Would you like to try it?

I thanked her for the offer on such a hot day, but said, I’m a Christian and believe that God ordained the day of my birth, the day of my death, and everything in between. He’s in control of my life and none of your water is going to change that. 

She smiled and agreed. As we walked away a few minutes later, my son said, There you go again freaking people out. 

Jesus was offered a cup of water from a women. In return He offered her the water of life. He said to her, Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall given him will never thirst again. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).

If I had a Million Dollars

winning-a-million-dollarsWhen he was 13, Daniel asked what I’d do if I won the lottery. It wasn’t a difficult question to answer because I’ve never bought a lottery ticket – and never will, but I know what he was asking. He wondered how our lives would change with more money.

The answer was simple: my life wouldn’t change. There would be no new house; I’d stay in my old manufactured home which keeps me dry and warm. No new car; my little Yaris gets me from point A to point B just fine. There might have been a few new toys for Daniel, but the rest would be given away to those whose needs are much greater than my own.

Evangelist John Wesley said, Money never stays with me long; I give it away as fast as I get it lest it burn a hole through my pocket and into my heart. 

For me, giving to God’s work and investing in others is more important than having more for myself. Dr CI Scofield used to remind his students that God won’t judge us based on what percentage we give to Him, but on how much we keep for ourselves.  Americans are a very, very generous people, but we still spend far more on ourselves for lives that are quickly fading into eternity.

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous  (Psalm 37:16-17).

God Was Lonely

god-was-lonelyGod was lonely, so He created man. He needed someone to love, and to be loved in return. At least that’s what I grew up thinking. The Bible tells a different story.

The Bible doesn’t say that Adam was lonely in the Garden of Eden, just alone (Genesis 2:18, 20) in that there was not yet another creature among all of the animals comparable with Adam. On the 6th day, God also created Eve so humanity could fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28).

Likewise, the Bible doesn’t say that God felt all alone and created man to fill His purposeless days and soothe His empty nights.

In His prayer the night He was arrested by the Jewish mob, Jesus prayed,

You have sent Me, and have loved them [the disciples] as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (John 17:23, 24).

God is love and before the Earth was formed or Adam walked in the Garden, the Father loved His Son (1 John 4:8). Perfect love existed in eternity!

We weren’t created as a balm for a very needy God with an empty heart. The truth is, we have done everything but love Him, yet He has still made us the recipients of His great love. Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God (1 John 3:1).

Flying to Kenya

where living begins, pastor, Richard L Rice, Kimberly Rice, Matthew Ferraro, Kenya

When I make my journey to Kenya in a few weeks, and then home again, I’ll have to fly on 7 different planes and pass through 9 airports. The travel time will be a total of over 68 hours. Total distance by air is 22,990 miles at a cost of 9 cents per mile.

The Bible says that to be absent from the body means being present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

For the one whose trust is in Christ Jesus alone, upon death our:

  • Flight time to Heaven is instantaneous;
  • Distance traveled is immeasurable;
  • Cost to us, nothing; cost to God, the death of His Son;
  • Time waiting in airports is nil.

And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Restless

Carson City is the capital of Nevada. It’s a beautiful small city with an old-West feel, nestled against the snow-covered Carson Range. Driving into Carson after hours of dead Nevada desert was like entering a paradise.

The friendly and overly-talkative hotel manager walked us from the front desk to our room. I opened the door, wheeled in our luggage and plopped myself headlong onto one of the two beds. I couldn’t bounce up fast enough. The bed cover was wet and smelled of urine!

I wadded up the bed cover, held it at arm’s-length, and with my head turned sideways marched across the parking lot to the front desk. We couldn’t wait to get moved to another room, a clean room, which was given to us free for our stay.

Like that room, life is full of filth in a filthy world. We live in a world that is being destroyed by man’s sins and is condemned under the curse of God. Yes, there is still extreme beauty and much happiness to experience, but as CS Lewis asked, Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind. 

Sadly, many people have become used to living in the filth and now think of it as the acceptable standard. For the Christian, the sin, ravages of moral rot, and God’s curse upon this world only makes us restless to be in the perfect presence of Christ in Heaven.

We are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (Philippians 5:6, 8).

Scare the Hell

Scare the Hell 10 2015Marcus went to bed earlier than usual. The morning would bring a special day for the 13-year old. He was trying out for his junior high school basketball team and needed to be rested and ready to make the squad.

From out of the hallway he heard the clock chime its familiar tune. It was 2 am. “So much for going to bed early if I don’t fall asleep early,” he thought to himself.

A short time later Marcus awoke to a screeching sound and the smell of smoke. In the same hallway where the clock chimed every hour hung the smoke alarm. He heard his parents yelling and his two baby sisters crying. He was scared. Just then his bedroom door smashed open. Marcus jumped hastily from his bed and followed his father through the smoky hallway to the front door. He could feel the searing heat of the flames as he rushed past the kitchen.

Safe outside, the family huddled in the street as the police arrived and then a fire truck. Now every part of the house lit up the night sky. Marcus felt dazed by what he was seeing. Everything he had … everything he knew … it was gone. He was sure he was going to puke.

The young teen turned in the street toward the sidewalk just in time to walk into the path of a passing car, the driver looking at the fire rather than the road. Marcus was dead.

Just because you scare the Hell out of someone with tales of everlasting fire, the mark of the beast, or a world war, doesn’t mean he is safe in the arms of Jesus. Threats and fears don’t convert men; only grace through faith in Jesus saves.

 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).