Tag Archives: forgiveness

What’s in a Boat Anyway?

Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing.  They say unto him, we also go with thee.  They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.  But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat?  They answered him, no.  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye will find.  They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord.  Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.  And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.  John 21:3-8

ontheshoreHave you ever done something as a pure reaction? With little or no thought, you simply react.  This is the third time we find Simon Peter in a boat.  In Luke 5: 4 and 5, there was no reaction, just the obedience, “Nevertheless at thy word,” before he is called to follow Christ.  In Matthew 14: 24-31, we witness Simon Peter’s moment of unbelievable faith with, “Lord if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water,” that allowed him to walk on water toward Jesus.  Now in chapter 21 of John, Jesus has been crucified and resurrected.  He has appeared to the disciples twice so they know he is alive.  There would have been no surprise.  So what would make Peter react in such a way?  When John said it was the Lord, there was little to no thought.  He forgot the fish in the net.  He paid no attention to what the others were doing.  He grabbed his coat, jumped out of the boat and swam the hundred yards to shore.  Why?

I think it had something to do with his journey.  We often talk about people who are too focused on something as having blinders on.  They can see nothing but their target, whether it’s good or bad.  Peter obeyed and followed a teacher.  He later realized Jesus was the Son of God.  Now Christ had been crucified, buried and resurrected.  And there, I believe, lies one point of this Scripture; after everything Simon Peter had experienced, witnessed and heard since becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, what else could stir him to the point of pure reaction except the glory of the risen Lord?

Too often throughout our day, our focus is on everything except Christ.  Our days are so filled at times it can almost seem to minimize our risen Lord.  So I will pose the question – What are you focused on?  What would merit such a reaction and cause you to jump out of your boat?

Article by C.S. Depew

email

Articles

Advertisements

Is Peace in Every Human Relationship Possible?

I was recently watching a TV show and saw a character, a grown man, who was talking about his list of “mortal enemies.”  The comical part was the reasons the man had that led them to get on his list.  One “enemy” was a TV character he idolized who failed to make a scheduled appearance the man had attended as a child.  Another was “on the list” for opening the package of a collectible toy that apparently was valuable.  The reasons this guy had “enemies” was not because they committed some atrocious act against him; in many cases the reason had practically nothing to do with things the “enemy” had done but was instead about his reaction and his pettiness.

Shortly after this I read Proverbs 16:7, which says: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  That’s powerful!  Implicit within this verse is the idea that there is peace in all relationships, even those relationships which humanly you cannot imagine being peaceful.  According to Matthew chapter 5, when we, as believers, remember that our brother has anything against us, we are commanded to make reconciliation.  Immediately following, we are also instructed to agree with our adversaries quickly.  These verses put the onus on us, not the other person in the relationship!  We are commanded to consider whether someone has a problem with us and, may I add, when we have a problem with someone.  We are told to take the steps necessary to reconcile and to do so quickly.  Few of use regularly practice step one; and I fear even fewer even consider step two!

Inspection

Most of us rarely stop to evaluate our human relationships.  We may look at our marriage or our family, but, assuming we do even this, we almost never evaluate our workplace relationships or our friendships.  It’s as if we think things are unchangeable.  Are there regular conflicts with others in your life?  When you do recognize a conflict or strained relationship, do you think things like “so long as he works here it will always be like this” or “I wish those people would just find another church” or “why does my spouse always create problems?”

Introspection

When we are dealing with issues in any relationship, especially with people we’ve never gotten along with, the tendency is to complain about and blame them.  Our first reaction should be inspection, followed immediately by introspection.   What should you and I do?  Look inward and see if “our ways please the Lord.”   Biblically speaking, this our duty.  Are you living life according to God’s commands?  Are you exercising patience, love, and forgiveness towards others?  Have you taken affirmative steps to mend relationships, even when you think you weren’t in the wrong?

The Exception

Bible study reveals that sometimes there are times when Satan attacks Christians, but contentions and strife generally are of our own creation.  Our biggest mistake is not that we fail to realize there is conflict or a lack peace; our mistake is often that we want to blame it on “the Devil” when it likely is “our ways” that need examining. Don’t try use the exception as an excuse to avoid inspection and introspection.

In Proverbs chapter 3, God tells us that the ways of the wise are “ways of pleasantness” and “paths of peace.”  Does this describe all of your human relationships?  We can claim God’s promise of peace but only after we have look inwardly and know that we are living our life in a way that pleases the Lord.  With God, peace in every human relationship is possible.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

Articles

What Does ‘Being Saved’ Mean to You?

While reading through a devotional book, my wife asked me this simple question, “What does being saved mean to you?” In a poor attempt to flex my spiritual muscles and show her how well versed I was in theology, I fired off a line of seminary answers that were sure to dazzle her mind. I made sure to mention key words like propitiation, sacrifice, imputation … you get the idea. After a nice display of verbal acrobatics, I sat back and waited for my pat on the back — it never came… She responded with an answer I wasn’t suspecting, “No, that’s what being saved IS… I’m asking what does it MEAN to YOU!” Howbeit, (a little embarrassed to say the least) I wanted to know her opinion and response to that question. The answer was so good I had to share it:

Being saved to me means having a peace about life and death and a purpose to living. It means acceptance and forgiveness, grace and mercy, but also responsibility and urgency… – My Much Better Half

I’m not entirely sure that I could say it any better, but then again, that was what being saved meant to HER … But what does it mean to ME? What does it mean to YOU?

What is unique about salvation is that it will always mean something different to each and every person. For those who have accepted and trusted in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the reasons of what THAT truly means to them are no doubt as colorful as the people themselves! With that being said, I can’t leave you hanging — Salvation in its purest form is a reference to being delivered from something; so here are a few declarations I can make:

I can LIVE EACH DAY WITHOUT FEAR of tomorrow because I have been DELIVERED from DEATH

(Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us – 2 Corinthians 1:10)

I can OVERCOME MY FLESH through Holy Spirit because I have been DELIVERED from MYSELF

(Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1)

I can ENJOY THE FUTURE because I have been DELIVERED from THE PAST

(For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. – Hebrews 8:10)

I can SHARE MY STORY because I have been DELIVERED from THE WORLD

(For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:4-5)

The more I put my mind to it, the more I COULD add to that list — because salvation is so vast and so expansive. So I ask you the question again, WHAT DOES BEING SAVED MEAN TO YOU? Leave YOUR answer in the comments below; I’d love to hear them. As long as there is an emotion in your soul, your salvation will always mean something … Because it is just that GOOD!

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

Articles  |  Bio

Symptoms of the Heart – Part 4

A friend of mine recently had a conversation with a young man regarding the college basketball coach, Rick Pitino, and the negative media attention he has received concerning allegations that have recently been brought against him. Maybe you have asked yourself, “How could he do such a thing?” After all, people of influence are held to a higher standard; they are expected to conquer the very desires that defeat us. And so the greater question would be: “How could anyone do such a thing?” But the answer is clear; the Bible tells us that all people are affected by sin and selfishly motivated to fulfill their own desires. No one is exempt from the power of lust and self-fulfillment; no one can conquer it on their own.

Many have said, “But I’m not like that, I don’t do such things.” Just because we are able to do some things good viewed from a human perspective, does not mean we are free of sin. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Humans tend to look upon the outward acts and judge them as good; however, God sees the condition of our hearts. Owing to the natural tendency of the flesh, all men are under the control of sin, and are therefore, controlled by their selfish, sinful desires. Isaiah writes, “The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint” (Isaiah 1:5). It is due to the nature of sin that the Bible says, “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12).

The Bible speaks very clearly about the depravity of mankind by alluding to the spiritual nature inherent to us all. In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet writes, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Left for man to decide, morality would become nothing more than the cultural norm defined by lawmakers; but to a righteous and Holy God, morality is set by higher standards. Anything contrary to God’s law is sinful.

Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, and wickedness as well as deceit” (Mark 7:21). These symptoms of the unregenerate heart reflect a condition that man alone is unable to overcome. It is for these very reasons that Jesus Christ was sent into the world to prevail over sin through his death and resurrection. Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

What, then, can anyone do to overcome the problem of an unlawful, sin-filled heart? The answer can only be found in Jesus Christ. The first thing you must do is recognize the symptoms of your own heart and own up to your sin. Apart from the grace of God, the spiritual state and condition of your life is hopeless; the fact is that those very sins are what prevents you from having eternal life with Christ. Second, you must confess your sin to God and ask Him to forgive you in Jesus’ name. The Bible says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). Third, by placing your faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, whom died for the forgiveness of sin, and by asking him to help you turn away from your sin once and for all, you can be saved.

If you’re not sure about your salvation or want to know how to have a personal relationship with Christ, contact michael@michaelwaits.com

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

Articles  |  Bio

Buddhism: Why God Still Matters

A reader has asked the question in response a recent article about Tiger Woods, “If Tiger Woods is a Buddhist, then why does he have to ask God to forgive him?” It’s a good question; a curious one too. After all there are large differences between the two religions. Buddhism sees God mostly as an illusion while Christianity teaches that God is the Creator of the universe and present in our everyday lives.

In his apology to the world, Woods said, “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside [myself] causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.”

Buddhism teaches the idea of redemption as achieving Nirvana — the highest state of being for an individual to reach — a realization that sets one free from greed, hate, and delusion. That is much different from the teachings of Christ whom taught that fullness in life is not something that can be acquired but that through him when our physical bodies die, our souls can be ascended into heaven.

Many are familiar with Fox News anchor Brit Hume whom, when asked how Tiger Woods can recover from what has recently taken place in his personal and public life, stated, “The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

However, Hume did not explain what he meant when he said Christianity offers forgiveness. Will converting to Christianity completely erase what Tiger has done and remove the burden of offense that he has brought upon himself? Will it repair the damage that has been done to his personal and private life, completely restoring his integrity to the watching world? I believe the answer is no.

Christianity does not offer a “get out of adultery free” card, nor any other crime committed against mankind; the consequences are still left to bear. Simply converting to the Christian religion alone will not change anything about Woods’ current status before God. Christianity is far more than religion, it is about the forgiveness of sin. So then why is it important that a Buddhist or any other person from a different religion humble themselves before the Christian God and seek forgiveness?

To answer this question it is important first that we take into account that the Bible is unlike any other religious material in that it is held to be the actual living word of God. In it, not only do we find complete and fulfilling instructions for living, but also the necessary requirements for attaining eternal life, not your best life now. Other religious materials that have been handed down throughout the course of history were written by men who claim authority for themselves; however, the Bible rests on the authority God, not men. In it God has revealed Himself to us that we may know him and have a relationship with him.

In the Bible we find that God, Creator of the universe and everything in existence, has very specific expectations for our lives and how we live them. And although God reveals his law to us through His word, He has also written his laws on our hearts that we may know sin apart from the law (Romans 2:12-15). Woods verified his understanding of this when he said, “I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply…I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.”

Regardless of what religion one belongs to, the Bible says that all of mankind has sinned against God’s perfect law (Romans 3:23) and that we will all face God some day and be judged by Christ according to how we have lived our lives compared to his perfect standard (2 Corinthians 5:10). Anything contrary to God’s law is sin.

The Bible says there is a specific punishment for sin: “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and so the only way one can be redeemed from the sin he or she has committed in this life is to turn to God for forgiveness that has been made available only through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. For the Bible says the gift of God to us is eternal life through Christ (Romans 6:23).

Turning to Christ will forgive the offense of sin before God, not before man. By trusting in Christ for the only solution to the problem and consequence of sin, the Bible says whoever does so will be saved.

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

Articles  |  Bio

Creative Communion

Communion is always a special day at church.  It is one of only two ordinances that separate the church from other spiritual organizations.  Every time we share it, it is a sacred day of self-examination and spiritual closeness.  This week’s communion was more wonderful than I’ve experienced before.  Instead of the normal: deacons in suits, sitting up front, folding the cloth, serving the silver platters… we shared the bread and juice in a different way; and it was so good, I recommend it to you, too!

There are two parts to communion – two distinct emphases.  The first is what we often have shared together – it is remembrance of Christ’s death.  Jesus and his Apostles said: “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (Matthew 26:26; 1 Corinthians 11:24)  Yet there is a second part of communion which is often left out… the celebration of Christ’s return.  Just as the bread looks backward to salvation past (from sin’s penalty), the juice looks forward to the promise of salvation future (from sin’s presence).  In 5 of the 6 passages in the Bible which speak of the Lord’s Supper, our hearts are pointed forward with hope to His return: “till he come.”  “For this is the blood of the new testament (covenant, promise)…I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 11:26; Matthew 26:28-29)

First, we followed up a message about commitment by writing down the thing(s) that most often holds us back from giving God 100%.  A sin, any unforgiveness, an addiction, a destructive thought pattern, pride, a loose tongue… you name it, we wrote it down.  Then we brought our sins and problems to the cross and nailed them there – literally.  Hammer and nails were provided to remind us how Christ took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross.  We nailed our papers to a rugged, railroad-tie cross and left them there.  What a release!

Second, unleavened bread was set at the altar, near the cross (unleavened, since leaven in the Scriptures is a picture of sin, and Jesus was totally pure).  A few at a time, we took the bread, knelt at the altar and remembered the price that Christ paid for our sins.  We looked inward to see if there was anything to confess to God before we shared the bread.

Next, as people finished the bread, they were asked to come up onto the platform.  The three steps would symbolize Christ’s time in the grave and his triumphant resurrection.  Once on the platform, with smiles and song, we enjoyed the cup of promise.  We lingered and rejoiced together because of God’s forgiveness.

Lastly, we made our way off the platform, but did not return back to our seats.  We fellowshipped in the aisles and sang together a song or two (In Christ Alone & Beautiful, Terrible Cross).  In this same setting, we gave our tithes and offerings, and then we were dismissed.  What a beautiful note on which to end the service.

Praise the Lord for a sweet time together!

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio