Guardrails

GuardrailWe need a different way of thinking about God’s laws. We can’t think of them as a bunch of Thou-shalt-nots, because—as I blogged last week—that would mean we would have to look at The Lawgiver in an unbiblical way.

So let’s try this…

Suppose you are out for a drive on a crisp fall afternoon in a brand new sports car. You are really excited to see what this car can do! I’ll bet as you drive along the straight stretches of road, you will see very few guardrails along the sides. The guardrails you do see on the straight stretches usually protect us from things like rivers, roads passing underneath us, or perhaps a steep drop-off.

When you come into a tight turn, in addition to seeing a curved-arrow sign and perhaps a sign cautioning you to reduce speed, you are very likely to see guardrails along the turns.

Do those guardrails make you feel ripped off? Do they rob you of driving enjoyment? Have you ever felt like, “I really wish those guardrails were gone, because I’d love to get a couple of my tires off the side of the road”? Of course not!

We all know that those guardrails are there to protect us. In fact, the guardrails actually increase our driving enjoyment, because the dangerous places have been identified, and the metal guardrails will keep us from going somewhere that could be fatal.

This is a good way to think of God’s laws.

Abundant lifeJesus told us that He had come not to remove the guardrails, but to fulfill them through His life, death and resurrection (see Matthew 5:17-20 and Luke 22:20). Jesus didn’t come to rob us of life!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).

Far from ripping us off and saying “No!” to us, Jesus came to show us that God’s laws were rooted in God’s love. He came for us to see that God’s laws are His guardrails to keep us away from the places that are dangerous, and perhaps even fatal.

If God didn’t love us, He would let us do whatever we wanted to do. But He does love us, and so He gives us His guardrails to keep us safe. Instead of looking at His laws as something which is robbing you of life, see them as protections that are giving you more abundant life!

I am continuing our series called The Love In The Law next Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us.

The Love In The Law

Love In The LawWhen I say “Law” what sort of words come to your mind. Do you think of words like: restrictive? killjoy? barriers? hindrances? no fun?

If you’re a Christian, perhaps the same descriptive words come to mind when you think of biblical commandments. Maybe you think, “Don’t do that” (or for those of you who think in King James English: Thou shalt not).

But if we think of the law/commandments that way, that also means we have to think of the Lawgiver that way. In other words, God becomes a Policeman. He is closely watching to see who will break His laws so that He can dispense the appropriate punishment. After all, if the laws are a bunch of no-nos, then Someone has to be watching for law-breakers and handing out the penalties.

If that’s the case, what do we do with the Bible’s description of God that says “God is love”? If the Lawgiver is Love, how does that change our view of the laws themselves?

It must mean that God’s laws are an expression of His love. It must mean that His love is in the laws He has given us.

It must mean that God’s laws are NOT no-nos, BUT yes-yeses. 

Join us this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we talk about The Love In The Law. We’ll be working our way through the Ten Commandments, especially looking at God’s love that make each commandment a giant YES for our lives. Prayerfully, this series will completely change how we view God’s laws and commands.

Spirit-led

John GunnI love when this happens.

I love when the Holy Spirit takes over, and throws our agenda out the window.

I love when we let the Holy Spirit have His way.

Our special guest, John Gunn, came to Calvary A/G today with a word to share with us. But as the service progressed, and as our missionary guest shared some words she felt were specific to us, Pastor Gunn yielded to the Spirit’s prompting.

I love when a man of God says, “I had a message prepared for today, but I’m not going to share it. God has given me something else to share.”

It was a timely, anointed, powerful word. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Thank you, John, for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for speaking to us through Your servants.

Don’t Forget The Most Important Thing

Pastor JoshPastor Josh continued the Boating Lessons series yesterday, which Pastor Tom began last week. What a great word Josh brought us! Here are my “raw notes” just as I took them during his message.

Boating Lessons—part 2 (Psalm 103:1-5Matthew 8:23-27)

How many of us have been in a storm where we felt out of control or distant from God? When we are in the midst of that storm, we must remember Who’s in the boat with us.

Jesus challenged the disciples, “Have you forgotten Who I am?” They had seen Him heal leprosy (8:1-4), heal paralysis (8:5-13), raise up the sick and set the demon-possessed free (8:14-17). But now they were more focused on the situation than on the Savior.

One symptom of forgetting Who God is: complaining (the disciples asked Jesus, “Don’t You care about us?!” [Mark 4:38]).

The storm is part of God’s process to change us and to bring glory to God—Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Don’t forget Who’s in the boat … He never leaves us. The most important thing is not the storm rocking the boat but Who is in the boat with me!

I might feel like I have no control, but I must remember that Jesus is in the boat with me and He has all control!

Storms may come “without warning” to me (Matthew 8:24), but remember God Who is in my boat is All-Knowing and He’s never taken by surprise. 

Pastor Josh closed his message the same way I’d like to close this post: in prayer. If you are in the midst of a storm—or if you feel like God is distant—this is the best time to cry out to Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit can remind you of Who is in the boat with You. He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Please join us next Sunday as Pastor Tom and Pastor Josh continue this series.

Ask & Act

Pastor Josh and Pastor Tom kicked off a 3-week series yesterday with Pastor Tom sharing part one in Boating Lessons. I loved his message! Here are my “raw notes” just as I took them during Pastor Tom’s message.

Boating Lessons—part 1 (Matthew 14:22-33)

When Jesus spoke to the disciples in the boat He literally said, “Don’t be afraid. I AM” (Matthew 14:27; also see Exodus 3:146:12).

Peter replies, “If You are the I AM, command me to come out on the water to You” (v. 28). Peter counts on the Word of God and experiences the supernatural.

The 11 other disciples in the boat didn’t have Jesus speak directly to them at all. They were content with their boat, so He let them have their boat.

Ask & ActAll 12 could have walked on water. The two differences:

(1) ASK—Peter asked for it.

(2) ACT—Peter obeyed when Jesus said, “Come.” [The word ‘come’ used here only occurs in the Greek in the present imperfect tense ... Peter has to complete the action now.]

The supernatural with Jesus wasn’t just for Peter; it can be for me as well…

Very truly I tell you, WHOEVER believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do WHATEVER you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask Me for ANYTHING in My name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

“Christians are more afraid of messing up than they are of missing out.” —Mark Batterson

I don’t want to miss out on what God has for me! So I am going to ask Jesus to let me be used for Him, and I am going to be quickly obedient when He says, “Come.”

Join us next Sunday as Pastor Josh continues this series.

More Ministers Needed In The Church

The church goesI always get a bit nervous when someone calls me “the minister of Calvary Assembly of God.” I am not the minister; I’m the pastor and a minister.

There’s a big difference! 

A pastor is one of the gifts Jesus gives the church to equip lots of ministers (see Ephesians 4:7-13). A pastor is not the minister, but a minister-equipper.

Check out this quote from Oswald Chambers—

“Notice the gifts that the Apostle Paul says Jesus sent after He ascended—viz. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’  The test of a preacher or teacher is that as we listen to him we are built up in our faith in Jesus Christ and in our intimacy with Him; otherwise he is not a gift from God. Today we are apt to test the preacher on the ground of his personality and not by his building up of the saints.” (emphasis added)

I don’t want to be put on a pedestal as the minister. I want Jesus to be exalted. This will only happen when all the gifts to the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers—are equipping the entire church to minister.

What do you think?

Rewards For Faithfulness

NunI unabashedly tell anyone who asks me what my favorite book is … It’s the Bible. I have yet to find such a collection of writings that work every single time they’re applied.

Two summers ago we began a series of messages on the 119th Psalm. It appears that the psalmist shares my passion for God’s Word, as he writes time and time again the difference Scripture makes in his life.

The other thing that makes this psalm so cool to me is the organization of the 176 verses into twenty-two 8-verse segments, with each verse in a segment beginning with the the same Hebrew letter as its title. In the Hebrew language, the letters in the alphabet had their own meaning. In English an “n” is simply spelled “n.” It has no other definition or meaning. But in Hebrew the letter nun has both a spelling and a meaning. Nun is spelled nun-vav-nun (final), and it means both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness.

Look at the three Hebrew characters that spell nun. Reading right to left it tells a story and gives the meaning of the letter/word—the one who is humbled in faithfulness will be the one who stands in righteousness. The perfect example of this is Jesus, Who humbled Himself when He came to earth and to the Cross, and then was exalted by the Heavenly Father to wear the crown of righteousness (see Philippians 2:5-11 and Revelation 14:14). Paul starts this passage by calling on us to “have the same attitude as that of Jesus” (v. 5), and concludes with the call to stick with it all the way to the end (see vv. 12-13).

RewardsThe psalmist calls us to this same thing in nun (Psalm 119:105-112). The “bookend” verses say, “Your Word is a lamp for me… so my heart is set on keeping Your Word” (vv. 105 and 112). In between the psalmist commits himself to a life of humbly persevering to God’s ways, and reaps the rewards of a changed heart, the joy of the Lord, and a heritage to pass on to others.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but also TO ALL who have longed for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end (Psalm 119:112).

Rewards here (new heart, joy, heritage) AND rewards in Heaven (a crown of righteousness). How awesome is that!!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area, I will be continuing our series through Psalm 119 next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

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