Category Archives: Love of God

I’m a Sinner, But I’m Saved! Thank God!

My friends, since I am still recovering from surgery to my right shoulder, typing is still quite painful after a few moments. I thought about a few things I wanted to write, but then decided a re-post was in order.

So, I went back a few years into the archive, and that’s when I found this post. I little voice inside me said, “Post that one again.” Therefore, I hope you read the whole thing; it might be a word from the Lord for you.


I Still Sin

(updated)

It may come as a shock to some of you, but I still sin. Yes, this preacher still makes mistakes. You see, I am no better than anyone else, even though there used to be a time when I thought I was.

Years ago, when I was a really legalistic son-of-a-gun, it wasn’t uncommon for me to look down my nose at others who were “less spiritual.” Oh, I wouldn’t admit I thought I was better than anyone, because I really thought I was humble. It’s just, seriously, I never committed any of those horrible sins like adultery, murder, etc. All my sins were small, like not cleaning my room when asked, or looking too long at pictures in the J.C. Penney catalog.

But things changed. First, I found out that this self-righteous do-gooder could actually screw up – big time. Second, I found out that some of the ones I looked down on before had better excuses for their sin than I did. Third, I grew up. Forth, I found out what grace is all about.

So, I still mess up from time to time. I still sin, and that’s because I still live in unredeemed flesh. However, there are still times when I need to be reminded of how sinful my little sins are, and how great God’s grace is.

What I Deserve

Last week I lusted. Yes, this preacher – a married man and father of three – lusted. It’s not like I do it all the time, but I saw something on television that caused me to look longer than I needed to, to allow some thoughts to come into my mind that had no business there. A moment of weakness. Just being honest.

Later in the day, after a long day on a hot school bus, I took a shower. As I was washing my face, soap got into my eyes and caused them to sting. With a wince I felt a little twinge of guilt as I was reminded of the earlier sin involving my eyes. I said aloud, but to myself, “I guess I deserved that.”

Then, almost immediately, a still, small, Voice whispered into my heart, “No, what you really deserve is Hell.” In other words, it was like God was saying to me, “Anthony, is that how little you think of my Son’s sacrifice for you?” In other words, if all it took was a little soap in the eyes to pay for that mistake, why the cross?

Bam!

Do you realize that even if all you and I had ever done was commit some little, private sin, Jesus would have still had to die on a cross to reconcile us with God? Do you realize even the smallest, most insignificant sin is still sin in God’s eyes? ALL sin separates us from the Father, therefore ALL sin is worthy of Hell.

But praise the Lord for God’s amazing grace! It saved a wretch like me. Through it the righteousness of Christ was imputed to me, and therefore I am now truly clean, holy in the sight of God my Father.

I’m a sinner, but I’m a saved sinner. Thank God!


Do you want to know how you can be a “saved sinner,” too? Click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the screen. If you’d like to talk with someone about it right now, call 1-888 – Need Him.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, legalism, Love of God, salvation

After-Christmas Gifts

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

Late-Comers

Part of the Christmas story can be found in the book of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. There, in chapter two, we read of several wise men, Magi, who followed the star till it rested over the place where the young Jesus was living.

But what most people fail to notice is that only the shepherds came to visit Jesus while he was still a baby in a manger. The Magi came later, once they were living “in the house” and Jesus was a “young child.” And, based on Herod’s decree that all male children 2 years old and younger should be killed (Matt. 2:16), Jesus could have been a toddler up and walking.

Simply put, generally, every manger scene protested against by atheists is not a faithful representation of the Christmas story. How ironic is that? But I digress…

The Gifts

When the Magi came to Bethlehem in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2), they brought with them three very rare and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were not random gifts, but ones with specific political, spiritual, and practical importance; they were meant to recognize a literal, earthly, but also heavenly King.

gold frankincense and myrrhGold was a universally recognized precious metal, symbolic of all wealth. Frankincense was a substance primarily used as incense, but also mixed with other substances to create the holy anointing oil placed on high priests and kings. Myrrh was a substance used for things ranging all the way from cosmetics and antiseptics, to perfuming the living and embalming the dead.

According to Matthew 2:11, the Magi fell down before Jesus, which would have been an appropriate response when in the presence of royalty (and these men knew the difference). But the wise men did more than fall prostrate before royalty, they “worshiped him.”  This young king was more than just “King of the Jews,” but the long-promised Messiah, and they offered their gift to the Son of God.

Are You Wise?

As long as I can remember there have been sermons preached during and before Christmas entitled, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” The sermons focus primarily on the seeking leading up to Christmas, but rarely, if ever, on the gifts given after the celebration is over. But today is different.

Today, I am going to ask you to consider three gifts we should give, now that the birthday celebration is over.

  • Gold. Gold represented wealth. In your worship of the King, will you give Him your wealth? In reality, God owns everything, including everything He loans unto you. But with your heart, are you willing to lay everything that is most valuable to you at His feet?
  • Frankincense. Frankincense represented worship. Would you be willing to fall down before Jesus, or do you hold back some of your Frankincense in reserve? Are there idols in your life – people or things – for which you reserve a little of that anointing oil, making those things lords of your life? Would you be willing to make Jesus Lord of all? Will you worship him without reservation?
  • Myrrh. Myrrh was symbolic of the beauty of life, from beginning to end. Would you give to Jesus everything that makes you happy? Everything that brings you hope? Everything that is sweet-smelling? Everything that hides your faults and failures, disguising your true self? Would you give Jesus your life? He can do more with it than you can do on your own.

Returns

For several days after Christmas people will stand in line to return and/or exchange unwanted gifts. Many will trade what others gave them for something they want more. Others will just ask for a refund or in-store credit.

Rest assured that when you give your gifts to Jesus, he will not return them, exchange them, or re-gift them next year. But will you, once you realize what you’ve given, want to take something back?

Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution. Now that Christmas is over, be like the Magi and leave everything at Jesus’ feet, then “depart…another way.” Once you give Jesus those three gifts, you’ll never be the same.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christmas, God, Love of God, salvation, wisdom, worship

Remember the “Least of These”

A few years ago I made a lot more “Monday Monkey” videos than I do now. Sadly, as I look back, I can see how much my girls have grown up. The following video is a good example.

In the following video you will see my youngest, Haley, doing her part to help the “least of these,” a freezing puppet next to a tree…and I wasn’t exactly warm, either.

Remember, Christmas is not about getting; it’s about giving. God gave Jesus Christ unto a world who didn’t deserve Him, and that supreme act of love (both on the Giver and the Gift’s part) should be reflected in our giving.

This Christmas, why not give something of value to someone in need, someone who won’t expect it. Then, take the time to talk about the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind.

Seriously, ask the Lord to give you the opportunity to share Jesus with someone; He will make it happen.

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Filed under Christmas, Love of God, ministry, Witnessing

Please Don’t Ask This Question

It’s Inevitable

Every year I get asked the same question from the same people, and then a few extra (I’m always meeting new people). It is a question that is usually, if not always, asked with only good intentions. However, it’s a question I hate to hear, much less answer.

As a matter of fact, last week our oldest daughter sent the question to me via a text message. I did not reply.

What was the question? What did she ask me with a text? What did she ask that others have also begun to ask?

“What do you want for Christmas?”

I hate that question.

What Is a Gift

I guess what really bothers me about the whole question is the fact that I’m being asked. You see, if you want to give me a gift, give me a gift. If, however, you don’t know me very well, and you have no idea what I would like to receive, don’t ask me – that’s cheating.

Folks, I  am at the age where most of the things on my “wish list” are beyond my budget or I’ve already deemed them an unwise purchase. Otherwise, I’d already have them. For example, I can’t afford a Rolex, but I’d love to have one. On the other hand, I’d hate to know I was wearing a timepiece that cost the equivalent of a mission trip that I could have taken.

Just last week my wife suggested, “Why don’t you just ask for something you need?” Well, then, would it be a gift? No, it would be asking for charity wrapped in shiny paper.

If you want to give me a gift, seriously, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If it does, and it was from your heart, then fine. However, the gifts that mean the most to me are those that imply you’ve made the connection between the gift, the giver, and me. The gift I want is one which tells me, “This gift is because I care; I thought of you when I got this.”

What is a gift? Actually, a gift is something special. If it’s not special, then what is it, exactly?

Why the Gift?

Stop and think about it, my friends. Why do we give gifts during this time of year, anyway? It’s because God “gave his only begotten Son” to those He loved, who needed Him, who couldn’t afford Him, and in most cases didn’t even know how or what to ask for.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. – 1 John 4:9 

Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15 

So, don’t ask me what I want – it might not be what I need. Don’t ask me what I need, because needs change, and sometimes I don’t know what I need more.

Just think of me, think of what might put a smile on my face, and let it be from your heart – that’s what matters. The best gifts I’ve ever received were the hand-made little trinkets my kids have created, so money shouldn’t be a concern – unless you’ve got it to burn, of course 😉

Whatever you do, do it with love. That’s all that matters. After all, isn’t that Who the first Christmas Gift was?

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Filed under Christmas, Love of God

Saturday Sayings

“Purity brings clarity.” 

– J. D. Greear, referring to Matthew 5:8: “Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Do you truly want to know God? Do you really want to know His heart? His will? Then ask yourself this question: “Is there willful disobedience in my heart?” If there is, never expect to “see” God, for your understanding will remained darkened by the sin you desire more than Him.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, God, Love of God

If We Could Only Comprehend!

This morning, as I preach from the third chapter of Ephesians, my prayer for you (and myself) will be the same as what the apostle Paul prayed…

I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 CSB

Oh, that we might comprehend the the width, the length, the height, and the depth of God’s love through Jesus Christ! If we could only even slightly comprehend the vast, expansive spread before us, mercy and grace for every need; the never-ending, eternal, infinite promise of his love and care; the heights to which we are raised, far above the lowly, humble truth of our natural condition and state; and the the depths of Christ’s love – humble depths to which the love of God had to reach down in order to pluck us from the pit of sin… If we could only even slightly comprehend them!

Yet, through His strength (v. 16), and being rooted and grounded in His love (v. 17), it is possible! Hallelujah! Because He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according the power that works in us! (v. 20 NKJV)

This morning, and every morning, to God the Father be all glory in the church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, wherever they may be, forever and ever, “world without end” (v. 20).

And all the people said… “AMEN!!” 

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Church, Faith, God, Love of God, Preaching, worship

Scars To Your Subjectivity

I Heard a Song

Even though it’s been out for a while – like over a year – it was just a few months ago that I heard “Scars To Your Beautiful” for the first time while doing some channel surfing on the radio (actually, it was on my Amazon Prime music app, but let’s not get picky).

If you have never heard the song, or seen the official video featuring the artist, Alessia Cara, then take a moment and absorb the message… Then let’s talk.

OK, did you listen? Did you pay close attention to the lyrics, including the testimonies of the people featured in the video? What did you think?

Who Made Her the Beauty Judge?

First, I think it is terrible to bully people because of their looks. Despite what they say about sticks and stones, words hurt deeply. Therefore, I can sympathize with the message of the song, for I was made fun of when I was young. People, especially kids, can be cruel.

But, as I listened to the song in the car, something came to mind that made me pause the music (you can do that with Amazon Prime) and say to my daughter who was riding with me, “You do realize, don’t you, that this song makes absolutely no sense without God?”

“What do you mean,” Haley responded? Well, that’s not what she really said. Actually, she just turned in my direction, tilted her head down, lifted up her eyes and eyebrows, and mumbled out a “Hmmm?”

I then asked, “Who is this girl (the singer) to say someone is beautiful just the way she is? Who defines what is beautiful?”

Seriously, haven’t we always been told, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Of course we have! So, if that is so, what is wrong with saying someone is ugly? What if I don’t behold beauty, but scary?

Alessia Cara sings the following in the chorus:

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing
The world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Honestly, I’m not trying to be funny, but what gives her the right to say those things? Why should anyone know she’s beautiful just the way she is? Why shouldn’t she or he have to change? For crying out loud, why should the whole world be expected to change its beauty standards to fit the self-proclaimed, totally subjective beauty definitions of an outwardly-odd human?

If we are nothing but space junk, the product of chance, and nothing any more special than naked apes, why should any of us think we are intrinsically beautiful? And what kind of hope is in the dark?

Intrinsic Beauty

Believe it or not, I talked about all this with my daughter while the song was paused. Then I said, “It’s because we are made in the image of God…because we were created by Him…because Jesus was willing to go to the cross for us so that we could be saved…because God loves us…

Each and every one of us is a unique masterpiece, intricately woven together, shaped by the Hand of the Master Artist of the universe. So, despite the critical eye of the beholder; despite the subjective, labeling trends that give definition to fleeting beauty; the One who made you, who loves you, and sees deep into your soul says, “You were worth the nails.”

That’s why you’re beautiful.

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Filed under General Observations, Love of God, self-worth