grace

Jesus Has Pity

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.” – Matthew 9:10 For so many believers and even myself at times, it’s important to remember that our walk isn’t just about being holy, but it’s about following God’s calling to reach out and help people who are struggling. Jesus shows us that we can serve people who may not have similar thinking, beliefs, or even know God. Jesus taught and demonstrated to his disciples how to have pity and compassion for another’s misfortune or suffering. Jesus’ ability to extend this grace was a true representation of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus is talking with His disciples, He says “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees.” This text is found in Luke Chapter 12. In today’s mindset, the Pharisees had a bad reputation based on their opposition to

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Coming to Faith in the Lord

“For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ ” – 2 Corinthians 6:16b After you become a believer of Christ, you become a temple of the Lord, or in essence, a house of the Lord. God’s call is for us to renovate this house and take responsibility for where we are now and where we’re going.  C.S. Lewis, a British writer and lay theologian, had a wonderful view on coming to faith. He said: “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are

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You Are My Credentials

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.” – 2 Corinthians 3:2 The Apostle Paul was once asked, “What are your credentials?” Paul was appointed by God to found the hugely successful Church of Corinth. Corinth was a port city that incorporated beauty, wealth, and was multicultural. Within the culture of Corinth, many were formerly enslaved due to debt or war and rebuilt their lives; one was considered successful based on an individual’s ability or achievement, and this personal reconstruction allowed the society to thrive. Envision dog-eat-dog on one hand, but incredible wealth and success on the flip side by people who are determined, industrious, and entrepreneurial. In this climate, Paul learned quickly due to his humility he was not fully accepted. The church was embarrassed by his working trade and his inability to speak well by Roman standards. Yet Paul was very accomplished

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Receive the Spirit of God

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17 Today, I want to talk about the real freedom that comes from experiencing the Spirit of God. This is not an abstract idea because there is a real bondage that we can feel without His Spirit. This bondage can take many forms: You grapple with your reputation, prestige, or the opinions of people. Perhaps your pride is in your looks, your money, or maybe it’s your position in an academic arena. What if you carry arrogance even in your position within a ministry? When those things become who you are rather than being a child of God, you become a “slave” to it.  Significant research has recently revealed some negative effects social media can have on people. Yes, it does have some redeeming qualities and can be viewed as

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It’s Just Saying “Yes”

“As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.” – Mark 2:14 The way you get into heaven is by trusting your life to the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ. That’s the Gospel, by the way. Every religion in the world has some sort of balance sheet for your life. If your good works in whatever cosmic way outweigh your bad works, you go to heaven. That’s actually considered heresy in Christianity. We believe that no one’s good enough; that’s how we’re all equal — that we’re all a bunch of sinners and we need Jesus. And when we’re saved by Him, our life is a response to the fact that He loves us as children.  You see, He loves us just as we are, not as we should be. And

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This is Jesus’ Heart

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ ” – Luke 19:5-7 Jesus had an eating ministry. The heart of Christ is reconciliation, grace, forgiveness, and mercy, and particularly, He likes to do this with food. You might have heard me say this every Sunday back in the day. We used to serve communion and before I would invite people to take part, I would say, “Jesus has an eating ministry and He’s continuing it now in communion.” So much of Jesus’ ministry was inviting sinners — or people who were not supposed to associate with righteous people, to His table. The Bible speaks of a

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Grace and Goodness Overcome Evil

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21 I remember when I first got to seminary. I was a young 25-year-old who knew everything because, well, I had the Bible and that was all I needed. However, being part of a Reformed denomination, I was told that if I wanted to be a pastor, I needed to go to seminary. So on my first day, I waltzed into a class and a really well-known theologian was my professor. At one point that day, when he made an assertion about something, I stood up and literally said to him out loud, “You’re wrong!”  He didn’t lash out at this point nor did he make me feel embarrassed, he simply began asking me questions. As he worked on dismantling my argument one probe at a time, I gradually lost confidence in my position and sat down

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Being Jesus on the Job

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17 Did you ever watch the show “The Office?” Although it ended in 2013, it became one of the most successful shows in American television history. I believe it’s because of one simple thing: It portrayed the types of relationships that all of us wish we had at work. It’s easy to fantasize about a perfect workplace and think that if you only worked for Google or maybe for Apple, things would be great. Magically, you would have fun on the job and you would be innovating all day long. You would have meaningful relationships with coworkers that would just spontaneously develop. However, I want you to know that there is no magic formula specific to these environments that makes this possible. The reality is that good working relationships can happen anywhere, and they might just start with you. 

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Intended Harm Transformed

“His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said. But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” – Genesis 50:18-21 Yesterday, we continued to look at the story of Joseph and we saw that after nearly twenty years of misfortune and trial, He finally witnessed the fulfillment of his prophetic dream. This is the culmination of his story. After interpreting Pharaoh’s vision, Joseph was elevated to a position wherein his power was almost equal to that of the king. This was truly a display of God’s divine favor! Through this promotion,

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How to Love Your Enemies

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35 Yesterday we talked about EGRs, or those people in our lives who require extra grace. We agreed that the best way to deal with them is to love them. Today, I want to elaborate on how we do that, particularly the fact that our ability to love does not come from a place of trying harder, but rather from transformed character. You see, when we submit to the work of Jesus and cultivate true faith and selflessness, agape love bubbles up from within us! Loving our enemies is not a spontaneous happening, nor is it an end in itself. Rather, it is the fruit of

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