The Peace We All Want

When you consider what you hope to experience with holiday gatherings this Christmas season, I highly doubt you are looking forward to division, strife, and stress. You want peace and joy in those gatherings, right? If you get together with family and friends, get along with everyone and have a great time, you will look back on that time with fond memories. That is the kind of peace we all want this time of year, and all the time, really.

Do you know what else we all want, though, that we might not consider as much as we should? We all want lasting peace. No one leaves a fun get-together with family and friends and says, “Well, that’s enough peace and happiness. I need some stress and heartache in my life now! Who wants to fight me?!” Okay, at least someone in his right mind does not think or say that.

Lasting peace is the peace we all want. Not only that – lasting peace is the peace we all need and is the peace for which we were created.

The God who created us proved this to be the case by sending His Son Jesus Christ to make a way for us to have lasting peace. Our sinfulness and the resulting fallen world in which we live make such peace impossible, but through Jesus, the impossible became possible. When we turn away from that sin and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, He saves us from our sin and reconciles us to God forever. Only then do we begin to experience the peace we all deeply long for, the peace we all deeply need, and the peace for which God created us.

Have you experienced that peace? Are you looking to and trusting the Lord to help you to continue to realize and embrace the lasting peace that only comes from Him?

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Luke 3:1-18 on the lasting “PEACE” that only comes from the Lord. Through John the Baptist’s ministry, message, and example, we can learn a few essential truths of sincere peace with God – the only peace that endures forever.

In the meantime, I encourage you to seek the Lord and pray for His peace. Pray that peace with Him and peace with others will be the growing desires of your heart. Pray that He will use you like He used John the Baptist to be a messenger and example of what lasting peace looks like. God help us for His glory and for our (and others‘) good!

Do you want lasting peace but are not really sure where to begin? Please check out The Story and surrender your all to the Lord. He alone gives such peace.

How do you respond to the sexual revolution?

While “the sexual revolution” is widely regarded to have already taken place (beginning in the 1960s), you could certainly make a strong case that it continues today. Really, though, I would argue that, while the “revolution” of such things by cultural standards and societal norms took place then and continue to take place today, the very ideas of “the sexual revolution” have been happening since the days of Noah, the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.

Regardless of the terms and the times, the revolution of sexual activity has been ongoing for thousands of years and will continue until Jesus Christ returns.

Any practice of sex outside of God’s perfect design, however, is sinful. Sex is a beautiful gift from God but is, per His perfect plan for humanity, meant to be practiced, enjoyed, and celebrated only between a man and his wife. Anything less (or more) will not satisfy and more importantly, will result in God’s judgment.

How many marriages, families, communities, churches, friendships, etc. have been destroyed by sexual sin (pornography, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, masturbation, pedophilia, rape, incest, etc.)? On the other hand, how many marriages, families, communities, churches, friendships, etc. have been destroyed by sexual fidelity? No genius is necessary to accurately answer those two questions (sexual infidelity destroys lives; sexual fidelity promotes and advances life).

THE GRACIOUS WARNING

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from 2 Peter 2 on the “Grace to Know” God according to the truth of His Word. Unfortunately, the world is full of deception that seeks to push us away from God. By His grace, though, He has preserved and given us His Word to protect us and to teach us how to discern Truth from evil.

In the Bible, we are warned of the very things “the sexual revolution” has promoted and celebrated. Thus, the distortions and abominations should not surprise us, even though we should be saddened and prayerful. God help us!

In His grace, God has warned us not only that the world would be consumed by sexual sin, greed, idolatry, etc., but also what will happen if we turn to those things rather than to Him. Eternal destruction and damnation are the results of giving in to any sin, including sexual sin.

Since we are all sinners, this is really bad news. Praise God, though, that He has provided a solution.

THE WAY OUT

If you are trapped in the snares of sexual sin (or any other sinful lifestyle), please do not lose hope. Please do not give up. Please do not believe the lie that it is too late for your life to matter and for hope to be restored.

The Good News of the gospel is that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He took the punishment that you and I deserve, and then He rose from the grave and defeated sin and death for all of eternity. If we simply turn away from sin and trust in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for our salvation, we receive forgiveness and a right relationship with God. And, that is more than just our eternal life; our life is different now.

Does that mean we will never struggle with sexual sin (or any other sin) again? Of course not. Rather, that means we will never be content to live in sexual sin (or any other sin) again. As the Holy Spirit of God changes our hearts and our lives, we will continue to grow in our desire to know and follow and obey God according to His Word. We will grow in our ability to discern Truth from evil. We will long to obey God’s Word and heed the advice of the Apostle Paul…

Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

What is your response to “the sexual revolution” and the destructive perversion of God’s plan for your life? Will you respond by fleeing from sin and turning to God? Seek Him through His Word. Depend on Him in prayer. Serve Him through His church. Declare Him to the world.

There is a way out from the trap of sin and death. Jesus is the Way. Turn to Him before it is too late. Plead with others to do the same.

The Story explains how we can be delivered from sin and death now and forever.

Politics Are Not the Source

What happened at our country’s Capitol Wednesday was sad, embarrassing, and tragic. Frankly, I was not overly surprised, and that further illustrates the discouraging state of our nation right now. What is especially frustrating to me is that the name of Jesus continues to be used wrongly and immorally for political purposes and for purposes of blatant evil.

Christ-followers are called to honor, respect, and pray for our government leaders, whether we agree with them or not (see, for example, 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13:1-7). What happened Wednesday was a disgrace. This is particularly true for those who claim the name of Jesus while also supporting sinful rebellion.

Followers of Jesus, let us be better. Let us set an example. Let us live according to the Word of God.

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Those who stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday are not a cloud of witnesses, nor are the vast majority of our political leaders. The godly faithful referred to in Hebrews 11 (and those like them) – people who endure in the faith, no matter the cost – are the cloud of witnesses.

Our country’s leaders, whether great or not, are not the source and perfecter of our faith. Politics are not the source. Our government is not the source. Our country is not the source. Jesus is “the source and perfecter of our faith” and He, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”

That cannot be said about anyone else. Jesus alone could do that and Jesus alone did do that.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through Hebrews 12:1-13 on how “Jesus Is the Better Reason.” He is the better Reason – the superior Reason – we press on and endure in the faith. He is the Reason we have hope, joy, peace, and contentment. He alone is the Reason who lasts because He alone is the the source and perfecter of our faith.

Politics are not the source, so please do not worship our country or any political leaders. Do not give in to the cult of personality idolatry, for no one but Jesus rules a kingdom that is eternal.

If you are finding your hope in politics or anything/anyone else besides Jesus Christ our Lord, will you turn to Him today? Will you ask Him to take over your life and change your heart? Learn more HERE.

No Silly Barking

When my kids drive their remote-controlled car, our dog, Lottie, goes crazy. She chases and barks at the harmless toy as long as it moves. Never does she tired from such activity, even if it goes on for several minutes. These are just 24 seconds of evidence…

If we fail to have a gospel-centered perspective in our response to evil against us, we will be just like Lottie. We will bark and bark, and while the barking might make sense to those of us barking, it is ultimately ridiculous. Only the right perspective will allow us to see that, though.

GOSPEL PERSPECTIVE REQUIRED

When we only think about ourselves and our situation and our frustration, we will not respond to evil in a God-honoring way. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching on “Living Good” (Romans 12:17-21). In that message, I hope to communicate two gospel-centered responses to evil, challenging you to respond to evil based on God’s response to you.

The gospel does that for us, changing our perspective so that we do not respond to evil like barking dogs. Sure, there are times when barking is necessary, but how often do we bark when simply surrendering our cares to the Lord is required?

If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). If you surrender your life to Jesus Christ and ask Him to give you a new heart, He not only saves you for eternity; He changes you now. He begins a work in your heart that affects everything about you, including your response to evil. Living at peace with others because of the peace God has given you becomes a desire, a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

BARKING OR PEACE?

How about you? Do you find yourself constantly barking, whether outwardly or inwardly, or are you experiencing a growing sense of peace – peace with God and peace with others? If you are struggling and really just want to bark, would you consider crying out to God for help instead? Only He can give you the peace that passes all understanding, and that peace will only come when you embrace the gospel and follow after Him.

Some day, if not sooner than later, we will see our barking for what it is – fruitless futility. Yes, we should pursue justice but not apart from the perspective that justice ultimately and perfectly belongs to the Lord. In that truth, we must have peace. Praise be to God!

Are you experiencing peace?

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have met Him (started a genuine relationship with Him), are maturing in Him (growing in your faith, as the Holy Spirit changes you), and desire to multiply for Him (see others come to meet, mature and multiply in Christ).

Discipleship 101: Meet. Mature. Multiply. is a sermon series through the Gospel of Mark that I started back in January before taking a two-month break to preach through Ecclesiastes. This morning, I resumed Discipleship 101, challenging those in attendance to experience and enjoy the peace of discipleship.

That peace, though, does not come without knowing the Only One capable of giving peace. If you are interested in listening to the message, please click HERE. Also, if you have yet to turn to the Giver of peace, learn how by going HERE.