Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We are less than a week from the presidential (and all the other) elections, and one word that we often hear associated with elections is hope.

“I hope he wins.”

“I hope he is re-elected.”

“I hope she is a good governor.”

“I hope he can get us out of this mess.”

“I hope she can balance the budget.”

We are filled with hope about the outcomes, as well as with the people involved. It is ok to have hope, but we need to remember that, ultimately, presidents, pastors, parents, politicians, and people in general will let us down at some point. Promises, no matter how well intentioned, get broken.

Others put their hope in themselves. I can do better. I’ll get it right next time. I’m getting the hang of this. I have a good work ethic. Still, though, hoping in ourselves will only end in disappointment when we eventually fail ourselves.

There is a small, often neglected book in the Old Testament called Lamentations. In the book’s third chapter, verse twenty-six, we read, “It is good that a person should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” This verse shows us a better place to invest our hope.

In a world where people will fail us and we will fail ourselves, there is One who will never let us down, and His name is Jesus. This goes beyond fixing our country or bettering our situation, for Jesus offers us “the salvation of the Lord.”

Who or what are you hoping in today? Is your hope in some other person—maybe the fact that your parents or grandparents were Christians? Is your hope in yourself—the fact that you are a pretty good person? When it comes to God’s salvation, no person is sufficient to save you.

Place your hope in Jesus, the sinless Son of God who did for you what you could never do for yourself. Depend on His sacrifice on the cross, not the sins you have sacrificed. Trust in His goodness, not your good deeds.

Have you experienced the salvation of the Lord? I hope so. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Cost of Forgiveness

What price would you be willing to pay to have your sins forgiven?

What if God promised to forgive you for your sins if you agreed to stand on your head for five minutes, then do ten jumping jacks? What if God required you to pay $10,000? Or $10,000,000? What if He asked you to give up your PlayStation, new car, or big house?

At what point would you walk away and say, “Thanks, but no thanks”?

God has actually put a price tag on forgiveness, but it is different than a lot of people think. In fact, after finding out God’s price, many walk away sorrowful, unwilling to make the payment.

In Luke 6:36 Jesus says to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” The imperative command to be merciful means to forgive, and the conjunction “even as” means in the same way. So Jesus is saying that we need to forgive each other in the same way that God forgives us.

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus included the line, “and forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).” The word “as” also means “how,” or “forgive us how (or in the same way) we forgive.”

Jesus is teaching us that our measure of forgiveness from God is dependent upon the measure with which we forgive.

In case you think I am stretching that verse, Jesus made Himself even plainer in the following verses. In Matthew 6:14-15 He plainly said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive you.”

So what do you think? Is the price too high to pay to have your sins forgiven? What person in your life do you need to forgive today? Forgive them, then apologize to your Heavenly Father and ask for His forgiveness. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


When I was in elementary school being called a copycat was the equivalent of a capital offense. While being a tattletale was typically frowned upon, we made exceptions if we were tattling on copycats. Being a copycat was even worse than being a generator of cooties. 

The reason no one liked a copycat is that copycats didn’t think for themselves. They copied people’s jokes, clothing styles, or behaviors. Copycats mindlessly followed what the popular kids were doing.

The Bible speaks about copycats. In Romans 12:2 we are told to “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...” That first phrase can also be translated as “do not copy the culture of this world.”

If you watch a football game, the commercials tell you that you cannot enjoy the game without a cooler full of beer; if you watch the majority of TV shows and movies, the characters tell you that in order to be a man you have to sleep with as many girls as possible; those same shows tell girls that if they want to keep their man then they have to give him what he wants.

And so our culture of copycats does what it is told, mindlessly following the leader in order to accepted by the cool kids. But the Bible tells us not to be copycats. Instead, we need to be transformed. Recent movies have helped people get a better understanding of what transformation means—it’s how a Corvette becomes a robot almost instantly (or in the real world, how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly).

When culture is doing one thing, we need to be transformed into something so much better. How do we do this?

The verse continues by saying that we renew our minds. We can’t change our lives without changing our minds; we need to change our minds about who we are and who God is.

Being a copycat of the world is foolish, but following God’s plan for our life is not mindless following. After all, God created us and knows what is good for us, so following His Word is the wisest way to live.   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



  “Jesus said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” –Luke 12:15

Jesus gave His disciples a strong caution in this verse. When He said take care, that was like saying, “Beware!” Jesus said to keep a guard up to fight off greediness. As humans we are naturally greedy, wanting to make sure that our needs and wants are met, but those selfish desires have to be crucified.

The gospel calls us to a life of selflessness, of putting others ahead of ourselves. When we see that we have a way to meet a need for someone else, but we choose not to meet it, then how can we say that the love of God is in us?

But Jesus also gave His disciples a good reminder. One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. That means that we are not defined but what we have or what we have done. Neither are we defined by our report cards, athletic awards, or bank accounts.

Jesus did not choose to love us because we became rich, scored the highest, got the promotion, or threw the winning pass. He loves us just because He chose to. And that means that we do not have to work hard to earn His love, and neither do we have to perform well to maintain His love.

Instead of being defined by what we have, we find our identity in God’s great love for us and our relationship with Him.

If that is the case, then why be greedy with what you have? Your stuff does not define you, so you might as well share it. Look for a way to minister to someone else today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hearers and Doers

Imagine walking into your classroom on a Monday morning and your teacher asking you to hand in the report she assigned over the weekend. “I didn’t do it,” you tell her. She might ask, “Well did you know the report was due?”

If you tell her you knew about the homework but simply chose not to do it, do you think she would say, “That’s ok; as long as you heard me give the assignment then I don’t care that you didn’t complete it”? Obviously, hearing the assignment is only half the battle. We need to do the assignment to get credit for it.

The same illustration could be made when it comes to obeying parents or taking orders from an employer. Hearing the instruction is good, but accomplishing it is the goal.

The same is true when it comes to the Bible. James 1:22 tells believers to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Naturally, hearing the word is still an important part of the process.

When you sit under the teaching of your pastor, do you pay attention, or do you text, plan lunch, think about your fantasy football lineup, or snicker about Betty Lou’s hat? We have to be hearers of the word, and that applies to the written word as well. Do you read your Bible with comprehension, or do your eyes read words off a page while your mind wanders, while still allowing you to check the block next to “devotions?”

Hearing is good, but are you also a doer? Do you follow through with what you heard? Do you practice what the pastor preached?

Verses that tell us to be honest, trustworthy, loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate, gentle, pure, and faithful are all good to know, but they also need to be obeyed.

Finally, if you are not a Christian, then there is something that you may have heard but not done. You need to depend on Jesus alone for your salvation.

Imagine standing before Jesus on the day of judgment, knowing you never trusted in Him as your Lord. “But I heard the message about salvation” won’t cut it. You’ve got to be more than just a hearer. You have to be a doer.