My way

Read: Leviticus 20-21, Matthew 28:1-20

In 1969, Frank Sinatra made a hit out of the song My Way and still holds the record for most consecutive weeks on the UK Top 40. Since then, numerous singers and bands have covered the tune. It is the song most frequently played at funeral services in the UK. The lyrics belt out how, even when life got rough, I did it my way. For many, it has become their anthem, a song that carries them through every aspect of their life. Even faith. Or so they believe.

I love Frank Sinatra. He had one of the easiest voices to listen to and the prettiest blue eyes to match. But he was wrong. Doing things your way may be able to get you through a lot of things in life, but it can’t get you through all of life. Your way may not be the best way. It may not be any way at all.

Leviticus 20:8

Humanity strives to find meaning. We push ahead to be—or at least be seen—as more than we are. Many want to be something they are not and try to become so on their own terms. But there are some things we just can’t do on our own. We cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus can save us. We cannot make ourselves holy. Only God can make us holy.

All paths lead to God is a phrase I’ve heard from celebrities, new agers, mystics, and even Christians. Many have been made to believe that, no matter how they want to live their life, so long as they believe that they will get to God, that’s just fine. Nothing needs to change. Yet they forget where holiness comes from. They forget that there is only one way to salvation and it isn’t through themselves.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 (NIV)

In Leviticus 10, Aaron’s sons decided to try things their own way. It didn’t end well for them.

So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

Leviticus 10:2 (NIV)

We have all sinned. We have all fallen short. And none of us can fix that on our own. God knows that. It’s why He sent Jesus to make a way where there was no way. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples to go and make more disciples and to teach them to obey all that he had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20).

If you want to do your own thing in life, that’s great! We need original people who aren’t afraid to put in some hard work to be successful. But in our search for success, we cannot forget that there are some things that are not up to us. When it comes to salvation and our approach to God, there is no my way. There is only The Way.

Come Ye Sinners

The Church is great. The Church is growing. We’ve got mega churches! We’ve got satellite churches. We’ve got multi-site churches. The Church is great. Fantastic. Never been better.

So then why did I hear just this week about someone who was afraid to come into a church building for a function because of the things that person had done? What has the Church done to make sinners believe that they are unwelcome in a church?

Because the church has made sinners unwelcome.

I’ve also heard of a local church that insists that any homeless person who wishes to attend a service has to sit in a different room where the message is streamed on a screen. We wouldn’t want to offend the regular members, would we?

Have we lost the focus of what church is all about? Church is all about sinners. People who were sinners and have found salvation and people who are still sinners who are looking for salvation. The Church, in many cases, has effectively cut off the supply that that Lord has given us.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love
and an overflowing supply of salvation.

Psalm 130:7 (NLT)

Where is this supply of salvation for the lost? Where is this supply of salvation for the lonely? Why has the Church hoarded it for themselves?

If we have been so greatly pardoned, why would we not want to lead others to receive that very same pardon?

Lord, if you keep a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.

Psalm 130:3-4 (NLT)

As often as we can, we should be flinging wide the doors of the church calling to the hurt, the lost, the lonely, and the sinners.

Come ye sinners the poor and needy
Weak and wounded sick and sore
And Jesus ready stands to save you
Full of pity love and power

Come ye weary heavy laden
Lost and ruined by the fall
And if you tarry until you’re better
You will never come at all

Come Ye Sinners, Dan Hamilton | Joseph Hart | Robbie Seay | Ryan Owens | Taylor Johnson

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 128-131, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40

Just the right time

There’s a lot of waiting for the right time. We hear it often. There’s a right time for farmers to plant crops. There’s a right time for a couple to start a family. There’s a right time for that special person to come along. There’s a right time to start school. There’s a right time for that promotion. There’s a right time for just about everything.

Because we spend so much of our lives waiting for the right time, it often has an effect on our response to Jesus. Some people are told that they have to wait for the right time for salvation. Well, guess what? It’s now!

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

There are those that may leave the impression that a person must be in the right place in their lives in order to be saved. You need to finish something. You need to change something. You need to know more. You need to do less.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NLT)

Utterly helpless. That doesn’t sound like a person who has it all together. That sounds like a person who has completely fallen apart. That is the person Jesus came to save. Jesus didn’t die only for those people who are good enough. News flash—no one is good enough. We cannot save ourselves from our own sin.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NLT)

Jesus took to the cross of his own free will knowing full-well that there would be those who would refuse his sacrifice. There would be those who would try to earn the gift that he was giving. Some might even try to pay for it. Knowing all of that, he still gave up his life on the cross for all of us who would recognise our own sinfulness and humble ourselves enough to accept what he went through—shedding his blood as the final sacrifice that would wipe our sins from all heavenly record.

Because of Jesus, we can step into a new relationship with God free from any guilt and shame that may plague us.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.

Romans 5:11 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 73-74, Romans 5

Context

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.

Mark 10:27 (NLT)

This is one of those verses we learn early on in our Christian careers. If you’re older than 30, you may have seen something illustrated on a flannelgraph. If you’re older than 20, it may have been Veggie Tales. If you’re younger than that, I have no idea what the current Sunday School fad is. The point is, we know this verse. We’ve heard it taught. We’ve sung songs about it. We claim it when things get rough.

I believe that we serve a God of the impossible. Parting the sea so that Israel could walk though on dry land was pretty impossible. Sending manna to nourish His people was pretty impossible. Coming into the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was pretty impossible. Coming to earth as a baby was more than pretty impossible, as was dying and coming back to life. But have you ever actually read this verse in context?

“Dear children, it is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” They asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.

Mark 10:24-27 (NLT)

The impossible in this context is salvation. God is able to save anyone—even the wealthy. God is able to take those who are unable to be saved and save them. He make the impossible possible.

While it is truly awesome that God really can do anything, should we not be celebrating the most over this revelation—that anyone can receive salvation?

Daily Bible reading: Numbers 32-33, Mark 10:1-31

Steadfast

Yesterday we looked at the word uttermost. We learned that, if something is done to the uttermost, nothing can be beyond it.

Today, let’s look at the word steadfast. This is another word that we come across often in scripture but not so often in our daily lives. If we don’t understand it completely, we may have a tendency to skip over it and never quite grasp the meaning of its context.

STEAD-FAST, adjective. Fixed in direction; steadily directed: firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment: unwavering: firmly established: firmly fixed in place or position.

Are you steadfast in anything. Do you know someone who is?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.

Lamentations 3:22 (ESV)

Let’s expand that verse.

The [fixed, firm, steadily directed, resolute, unwavering, established] love of the Lord never ceases.

Not only is Jesus able to save us to the uttermost, but His love is right up there with His ability to make us righteous. Just as salvation from God is unwavering, so are His love and mercy.

lamentations-3-22

Daily Bible reading: Lamentations 3-5, Hebrews 8

Uttermost

Uttermost isn’t a word most of us use. Ever. I’m quite certain that I have friends who have never heard the word. I think we should bring it back into use. But before we do that, what does it mean, exactly?

UT’TERMOST, adjective. Extreme; being in the furthest, greatest or highest degree.

If you’ve heard the word used, it may have been in the context of something being of the uttermost importance.

The former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:23-25 (ESV)

He is able to save to the uttermost. I’ve heard people claim that they are beyond salvation. I can never understand what they think they’ve done to make themselves so unappealing to Christ and beyond His saving grace. This verse here says that He is able to save to the furthest, greatest or highest degree. Usually when you add -est to the end of a word, there is nothing that goes beyond it. You cannot go beyond the furthest. You cannot be greater than the greatest. So if Jesus is able to save to the -est degree, no one is beyond salvation.

Not only did Jesus sacrifice Himself for us, but He continues – for eternity – to make intercession for us so that we are able to live a holy life. If that’s not to the uttermost, I don’t  know what is.

Daily Bible reading: Lamentations 1-2, Hebrews 7

Everyone

There are many people making all-encompassing truth claims these days. Any true believer would have to look at many of these claims and call them false. Not everything is for everyone at all times.

But there is one thing that is for everyone at any time. Every person on the planet has free access to it.

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:11-13 (ESV)

Though we may all be equal. We are not the same. As much a minorities may want to blur the lines of distinction, the lines do and always will exist. We were made different for a purpose.

If you’re going to remove lines of distinction, at least remove them in a situation that matters. Take them away when life and death are involved. Remove them in a way that’s beneficial for everyone.

When it comes to salvation, we are all the same. God loves us equally. Jesus accepts everyone if only we call on him.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 88-89; Romans 10

Delight

The English language really is a wonder. We have so many words that mean so many things. The language is constantly evolving and new words are added all the time. However, some words have also lost meaning. We tend to replace some words with others and make words that don’t really mean the same thing interchangeable.

When you think of delight, is it temporary or permanent? Is it affected by circumstance or state of mind? Delight. Joy. Happy. Content. We often use these words in place of each other. But what does delight really mean?

DELIGHT is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.

A high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy.

With that in mind, take a look at some of the verses in Psalm 37.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Psalm 37:11 (ESV)

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
When he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)

None of these references have anything to do with being happy. No outside force is implied when David tells us to delight in the Lord, in abundant peace or God’s ways. Even in the hard times, as David explains, if we delight, if we find our joy in God and His will, His ways, we will find the blessing of peace.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 37:39-40 (ESV)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 36-37; Acts 23:1-11