Category Archives: salvation

If Ever I Loved Thee, Tis Now

A Hymn Sermon

One of the greatest hymns, at least one of my favorites, is “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” A few years ago I preached a sermon based on the four verses from this song.

Below is a copy of the simple outline I took to the pulpit. I must admit, it got me a little wound up. (Can I get an “Amen!“)

“My Jesus I Love Thee”

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine; (Jn 21:15-17)
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign; (2 Tim. 2:19)
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou; (Ruth 2:10)
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Regeneration)

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me, (1 John 4:19)
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree; (1 Peter 1:18-19)
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow; (Mt 27, Mk 15, Jn 19:2)
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Realization)

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, (Job 13:15)
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; (Job 33:4)
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, (Ps. 116:15)

If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Resignation)

In mansions of glory and endless delight, (Jn 14:2)
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; (Rev 21:23)

I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, (2 Tim 4:8)
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (The Place of Revelation)

-William Ralph Featherstone (1864)

Regeneration. As I read the lyrics, I began to see a logical progression through the believer’s life. First, there was the love for Jesus that comes when one is born again – that moment of regeneration, when one is “saved.” The love we have for Christ is evident by our desire to repent of our sin and turn from its “follies.” Along with that, there’s the humble heart that asks, like Ruth, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me?”

Realization. The second verse describes a maturing love for our Lord that, over time, gains an appreciation for what Christ actually did to save us. Our love deepens when we begin to realize all those little sins, even the pettiest, caused the sinless Son of God to have to endure unimaginable pain and humiliation, not out of obligation, but because of His love for us. His cross should have been mine, but He loved me first; therefore, I love Him.

Resignation. Thirdly, there’s that place in life when we must ultimately resign everything – our hopes, our dreams, our lives – to the One who ultimately lends us each breath. This deep, trusting love comes from a life that has witnessed the enduring faithfulness of our Savior, leading us to echo the words of Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

Revelation. Then, finally, there will be the place of revelation that will send our love for Christ soaring to infinite heights. We will know as we are known. We will have no more need of faith, for faith shall become sight. We will be eternally overwhelmed by the Love of the ages, forcing us to cry out, “If ever I loved thee, my Jesus tis now!

Just thought I’d share 😉

Sermon: “My Jesus I Love Thee!”

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Faith, God, Love of God, Preaching, salvation, worship

I’m Going to Offend Somebody

Offended Anyone?

Have you ever offended anyone? I bet you have. Sooner or later, all of us will. We may say something we don’t mean, act carelessly, or speak the truth without love. Offenses happen.

However, there are times when simple words and phrases will set people off. For example, if you want to rile people up into a tizzy, just get on Facebook or Twitter and post any of the following words (your opinion doesn’t matter):

  1. Image may contain: 8 people, outdoor

    Yes, that’s me in the center kneeling. My dad beside me. We raced Fords. (1987)

    Grits, okra, and turnip greens

  2. Roll Tide! / Go Vols!
  3. “Only two genders”
  4. “It’s only a translation.”
  5. Rapture
  6. First On Race Day (Ford)
  7. Second Amendment
  8. “My kids will never do that.”
  9. “only between a man and a woman”
  10. Donald Trump

Seriously, use any of those words and it won’t take 10 minutes before people are arguing and fighting, calling each other names, questioning each other’s religion, and saying things like, “DON’T JUDGE ME!”

Nevertheless, we should do our best to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). It should never be our intent to hurt feelings or make people angry. The apostle Paul instructed us to “follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).  So, as much as is possible, we should watch what we say, choose our words carefully, and do our best not to offend.

And, when necessary, we should apologize.

The Rock of Offense

On the other hand, there are times when we MUST offend. Sometimes speaking the truth is the only loving thing to do; anything less is an offense to God.

For example, the following words will not make many friends but are guaranteed to generate hate-filled comments from around the troll-dwelling universe. Yet, they must be said!

  • Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man can come unto the Father but by Him (John 14:6).

As a blogger, my words are read all over the world by people who hate the name of Jesus, and when I mention Him they go ballistic. I hate it for them, but how can I remain silent?

Jesus told the followers of John the Baptist,

“…Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. – Luke 7:22-23 

I don’t like offending people, but here’s the thing: if we let the fear of offending silence the Truth, how then can we “follow after the things which make for peace?” There can be no real peace without the Prince of Peace.

So, I guess I’m going to offend somebody.

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Filed under blogging, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Defending Traditional Marriage, Defining Marriage, Faith, General Observations, Life Lessons, salvation

Where Do You Go When You Hide?

I was thinking of the words to an old hymn, Hide Thou Me

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my life in vain,
I’m tempted oft to murmur, to grumble and complain;
But when I think of Jesus and what He’s done for me,
Then I cry, to the Rock of Ages, hide thou me.

There are times when the burdens of life get so heavy; when the struggles get so hard; when no matter what, we still worry; that we have to cry out to Jesus, “Hide me!” Thankfully, He does. Back around 1880 Vernon Charlesworth wrote, “The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm; Secure whatever ill betide, A Shelter in the time of storm.

How different it is for the unbeliever.

Where does the atheist turn when his world is falling apart? When all friends forsake him? When the doctors say, “I’m sorry, but we’ve done all we can do?” When someone sings “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow,” but he knows he won’t see it?”

Where does the unbeliever hide? In drugs? Alcohol? Meditation? Sex? Nietzsche? Nature (which he believes is nothing more than the product of random chance and void of meaning)?

Scripture (Revelation 6:16) speaks of a day when men who chose to run from the Rock will “cry to the mountains and rocks” to “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne…” Ironic, isn’t it?

Oh, “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Future, God, music, salvation, the future, Uncategorized, World View, worship

Do You Have 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

After Christmas: Proof We Need Redemption

So, how was your Christmas?

Was it everything you dreamed it would be? Did everything go as planned without any family drama?

Were all the decorations beautiful?

Have you been listening to Christmas music since the day after Thanksgiving? Have you been drinking egg nog for the last three weeks? Have you spent hours shopping while listening to Salvation Army bells ringing?

Are you glad it’s over?

Are you a little tired of the parties, the celebrations, the concerts, the pageants, the tons of gift wrapping, the crowds, and the never-ending tunes about lights, bells, joy, and Santa?

Fact is if you are tired of it all and are ready for life to get back to normal, then you’re human and not an elf, and that’s an important truth to consider.

Celebrating Christmas has completely worn me out. I’ve had my fill of carols, smiles, joy, and jingle bells… even eggnog. I need a break.

And believe it or not, these feelings we have after Christmas – the weariness of celebration –  point to the fact that we have not been fully redeemed; our bodies are still waiting for that final transformation.

[We] also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23b CSB

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor can corruption inherit incorruption. Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 CSB

So, just imagine how difficult it would be to survive heaven for more than a day or two?

Not only will we need new bodies that never grow old, get weak, and want to go to bed before sundown, but we will need to be set free from all the chains of this mortal flesh – everything that turns an elf into a Grinch around December 26th or 27th.

Our corruptible minds and bodies must be exchanged for that which is incorruptible, else we won’t be able to endure the eternal and glorious celebration that is to come.

Without being changed, heaven would be full of worn-out billion-year-olds leaving the dirty dishes for the angels to deal with.

Heaven will be a celebration of the Redeemer by the redeemed.

So don’t be surprised when I say, “You must be born again” (John 3:7 NLT). 

If the corruptible got in, heaven wouldn’t stay heaven for long; it would feel like hell.

Think about it: Are you ready for Heaven?

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, clothing, salvation, the future, worship

Under the Light On the Tree

We had just finished putting up our first Christmas tree here in Georgia.

So, after getting the lights and ornaments set, it was time to move it out of the middle of the floor. While under the tree, pushing it closer to the window of the living room, I looked up and thought, “Isn’t that beautiful!”

Then, like any good blogger, I decided I wanted the world to see the pretty photo I took with my iPhone. It was when I titled the post that I thought of the beauty of another tree.

“In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine, such a wonderful beauty I see; for t’was on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.” – George Bennard, The Old Rugged Cross

The only reason we have a Christmas tree is to celebrate the One who came to offer us eternal life, and that only could have happened by Christ being crucified.

I probably wouldn’t have thought “Isn’t that beautiful!” when standing underneath the cross, but in retrospect, that would have been a wondrous sight to behold!

The Light … on a tree.

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Are You Ready for Christmas?

If it was this easy!

If I have been asked once, I have been asked a thousand times: “Are you ready for Christmas?

Well, if by “ready” you mean “have you purchased gifts for every relative and friend, cleaned your house, wrapped everything in red foil, watered the tree, mailed the cards, etc.,” then NO! I’m definitely not ready!

On the other hand, if you’re asking if I am ready for Christmas to get here, then yes, I am.

Am I the only person in this situation? I would suspect most people probably wish they had at least another month to get everything on their lists done.  On the other hand, I hope that we are always ready to celebrate the birth of Christ, which is, of course, the point of the whole day.

But aside from getting ready for the Christmas celebrations, there are other things for which we should be prepared.

As a matter of fact, below are three things we all should be prepared for, maybe even more so than Christmas.

Be Ready to Preach

Paul said, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel…” (Romans 1:15).  I should be able to say the same, for, just like the apostle, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (1:16). I should, and YOU should be ready to preach/teach/share the gospel at any time with anyone.

But you may say, “I am not a preacher, though.” Really? Well, the words of Jesus apply to all of us. He said,

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. – Mar 16:15

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. – Mar 16:15 ESV

Even though you may not be a pastor or Sunday School teacher, if you are not ashamed of Jesus, then it is still your responsibility to “proclaim” the message Christmas, the gospel (“good news”) of Jesus coming to save.

Be ready to preach.

Be Ready to Give an Answer

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer [a reasonable defense] to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” – 1Pe 3:15 NIV

If Jesus is the “reason for the season,” are we able to defend the Reason based on reason and evidence, not hollow, empty faith?

There are so many who are quick to attack Christians and the God of Christianity. They claim Christmas is based on a myth no more verifiable than the existence of Santa Claus himself. These same folk who deny Jesus was the Messiah then choose to follow some other pagan god or no god and say their “reasons” are more logical.  Really? Where is their evidence?

The Apostle Peter, when he said to “always be ready,” knew that there would be those who would question us and ask, “why do you have so much hope?” There are still plenty of people who are without hope in this world.  They are looking for answers. What they are not looking for is a fairy tale to make them feel good; they are looking for Truth that will make a difference in life, both on this earth and in eternity.

Be ready to give an answer.

Be Ready to Go

I know that Christmas is just around the corner, but who can assure me I’ll be around to see it?  There are no guarantees about tomorrow; one day life on this earth will be over and eternity will begin.  However, for many of us, we believe that Jesus is coming back one day.

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. – Mat 24:44

I want to be ready for His return.  I want to be ready to go with Him.  Being ready for that day, I believe, is a lot more important than getting everything wrapped just so, or cleaning house. If any “cleaning house” is done, we should always make sure our spiritual “house” is clean and ready.  One day, someday, a trumpet is going to sound…

1 Corinthians 15:51-54  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Are you ready to go?  If not, then there is good news: You can be!

You may say that you are not good enough.  You may think that you have done too many things to be forgiven.  You may think that if God is real, then there is no getting right with Him because you’re just too bad.  Well, if you are willing to put your faith in the Christ of Christmas, the good news is that God is also ready…ready to forgive.

For thou, Lord, [art] good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. – Psa 86:5

Get ready for Christmas, but make your heart ready for Christ.  The Savior born in a manger wants to give new life to you.

Are you ready?

Questions about faith in Jesus Christ?

Call 1-800-NEED-HIM

 

 

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christmas, Culture Wars, Preaching, salvation